YOUNGSTERS from Matfen Hall’s Junior Academy have a bit of a swing in their step after competing at the prestigious Wee Wonders Finals in St Andrews.

And the club’s Zara Naughton, 12, is feeling particularly proud of herself, having won the 9-12 Girls section after coming back from three shots behind to shoot a blistering second round, which doubled as a new course record of 65 (3 under par).

An unprecedented five juniors from the Northumberland club qualified for the finals, which were played out on the Strathtyrum course.

Rachel Batey, aged ten, Autumn Buchanan, seven, Harry Hedley, eight, ten-year-old Charlotte Naughton (Zara’s sister) and Zara had all progressed from the Regional Qualifier stage, through to the Regional Finals in their age groups, before making it to the grand final at the home of golf in Scotland.

PGA Professional JJ Vallely, who coaches the juniors at Matfen, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to have five players from Matfen make it to the final. It’s pretty unheard of to have so many from one club and it’s testament to the dedication of the players and the amazing support of their parents that they all made it.

“Winning this tournament was one of Zara’s goals of the season and it’s nothing more than she deserves for all the hard work and dedication she has shown over a long period.

“I’ve worked with Zara for six years and she is a pleasure to coach, always looking to improve! She is also a member of the North of England Futures coaching programme... we are all very proud of her!”

Matfen Hall Golf Club’s Junior Academy runs every Friday evening from 5pm to 6.15pm. For more information, contact JJ Vallely direct on 07899 090777 or email him at

BENJAMIN MILLER was at it again too. He came through two qualifying rounds, one at North Berwick and one at Gleneagles, to play at St Andrews in the Under 8s Wee Wonders National Final.

In many ways it was a greater achievement than his qualification last year as the seven-year-old competed against boys one year older.

His qualification capped a a fine year which saw Benjamin compete in the Northern Junior Golf Tour, winning one event at Garesfield, and being in the top five in a number of others to put him top of the Order of Merit. His handicap has reduced from 54 to 20.

Benjamin is a member at Chester-le-Street, South Moor, Warkworth, Alnmouth Village and Beamish Park Hotel Golf Academy and practices most days in between his football.