WHAT a year Will Skipp is having after being named captain for the Durham County Boys – and this could prove to be the best yet.

The 17-year-old Eaglescliffe player has continued to make huge progress and has already started 2019 by claiming further honours and he is looking to lead Durham to success in the Northern Counties Championship and the Northern Federation League and Championship, which they won last year with Skipp winning the individual title, and they finished runners-up in the league.

Skipp and fellow serial winner Tom Smith, also from Eaglescliffe, delivered their club’s Northumberland and Durham Inter-County Foursomes Championship in four years.

Four-time NYSD champion and current Northern Masters No 1 Smith partnered Skipp, who lifted last year’s Northern Federation Juniors crown as well as winning the Durham County Boys Championship for the third time, to a 3 & 2 victory in the final against Morpeth’s Sandy Twynholm and Phil Graham in the final played at South Shields in bitterly cold winds.

Smith and Skipp lost in the final in the final to City of Newcastle in 2016 but Smith partnered Sam Donald to the club’s first inter county crown for 38 years when they beat Ponteland at Consett in 2017 and this time he was back in tandem with Skipp.

They were three up after seven and there was no way back for Morpeth, who had narrow wins over Ponteland (at the 19th) and Hexham (1 hole) in the quarter-finals and semi-finals while Eaglecliffe beat Wynyard 2 & 1 and Bishop Auckland 5 & 4.

Skipp’s successes this year have not stopped there. He was part of Dyke House Academy’s team of golfers that was crowned the best in County Durham – and will now head to the national finals.

Sixth Form student Skipp won the overall Under-18s title at the prestigious Durham Schools’ Championships at Beamish Park on Monday. Year 9 students Jack Burton and Louis Westmoreland, who both won individual honours to contribute to the team’s success, backed him up superbly.

Wynyard’s Burton was crowned the Under-16s champion as well as finishing second to Skipp in the older category. Seaton Carew’s Westmoreland claimed the title for the best gross for handicaps 13-20.

Combined proved enough for them to seal the overall Schools’ title and they will head to Woodhall Spa on July 10 for the National Schools’ Team Championships.

Skipp’s 75 was enough to win the competition for the second time even though he was not particularly happy with his performance.

He said: “I didn’t play to the level I can but I still managed to win so I have to be pleased. Every time I have played that course I have never lost. I won under the Under-16s title three times, now the Under-18s twice – and won the county Under-14s too.

“It is the first time we have ever done what we have as a school at this event, we won everything.”

Skipp hopes to appear for England against Scotland Boys and Wales later this year. Burton, despite being three years younger, was only a shot shy of Skipp to claim the overall best nett score 69, as well as his Under-16s crown with a 76 at Beamish.

Skipp, who is coached by Wynyard’s Andrew Betts as well as being guided too by Dyke House’s golf consultant Graeme Storm and James Harper, is also looking to lead Durham well in the Northern Counties – which they won in 2014 and 2015 – at Rockliffe Hall on July 3.

“It would be nice to win it on home territory and also win the Northern Federation League and retain the championship,” said Skipp, who is currently playing of plus one handicap and has made his full county debut and is member of the full county squad as well as winning the County Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18 Boys titles in successive years.

He wants a golfing scholarship in the United States and is part of a Durham set-up that has reorganised junior coaching into three tiers – Elite, Performance and Development. It utilise the skills and experience of Storm, the Durham County vice-president.