The junior section has grown in size this year to 39 members, despite “losing” 5 juniors at the end of last season (all of whom have retained their membership in the intermediate category). We welcomed 7 new members during the year, and this growth is a credit to the Club at a time when many golf clubs are experiencing reducing membership levels, especially at junior level. I hope all the new “juniors” enjoy their membership and take an active part in the Section. 24 juniors competed in our competitions during the year resulting in some excellent competitive golf. The average age of the section is 13.5 years which is encouraging for the future, and we now have 5 girls on the membership list. This may not sound many, but the development of girls/women’s golf is a major target for England Golf, and I hope to encourage more of the girls to enter junior competitions next year. They are not just for the boys!
At last years AGM we appealed for members to join the junior committee, due to 3 “retirements”. Adrian Holland and Pete Nixon have joined myself and Jake Scragg on the committee, and have given invaluable support, making my life a lot easier! We are always happy to encourage members to join the committee, and never turn down offers of help! The Club also welcomed a new professional at the beginning of the year, and Greg Rogula has been especially supportive in the development of the junior section through the golf academy which is proving to be an excellent entry route to club membership.
The Club, through the General Committee and Secretary’s Office, continue to support junior golf. The Captain, Dave Gallimore, in particular, has been extremely supportive of our development. This was reflected in the attendance for the Captain’s Day for Juniors in June, when the juniors were competing for an excellent range of prizes which were presented on the day of the competition after The Captain hosted a meal. The section is also indebted to The President, John Carr, for donating a new trophy for which the juniors competed, also in June. The President’s Trophy is a nett stroke play competition which in effect is the “junior club championship” we had planned to introduce this year. The competition included a trophy, also donated by The President, for the best gross score, which was an incentive for the low handicap juniors. Again, The President hosted a prize giving, following a meal, on the day of the competition.
The competitive season has seen some excellent scoring in the junior competitions, and given the average age of the section, the general quality of golf is of a high standard. We will be reviewing and celebrating the season and prize winners during the awards presentation so a full list of award winners will not be issued until the end of the evening, as we have some awards which will only be announced on the night. One of the disappointments of the season is the decline of junior team golf amongst other North Staffordshire clubs. Apart from ourselves and Trentham, other teams in the North West Division of the Staffordshire County League and the North Staffs Junior Golf Alliance 4-ball League have failed to fulfil fixtures because of declining numbers. We were also unable to play the Annual Junior Festival Trophy against Westwood for similar reasons.
It is always good to see our young golfing talent being recognised beyond the Club. This season Dan Bourne has represented Staffordshire in county matches at U18 level, and Harry Fearn was appointed Staffordshire U14 Captain. Leann Nixon also became the first girl from Leek for many seasons to represent Staffordshire Girls at U18 level. All three players deserve our congratulations, both for their own personal performance, and for the fact that it enhances the reputation of Leek Golf Club.
One of our main aims in the junior section is to provide an environment for players to improve their golfing standard. However we also put a high value on “educating” the juniors on the etiquette and rules of golf, and try to avoid disqualifying players, wherever possible, from competitions. However one area of concern is the standard recording accurate, readable scores on a scorecard and also checking scores before they are signed and recorded on the computer system. We will be looking for an improvement in this area next season. We are also mindful of the high standards expected from our juniors both on and off the course. The Club allows the junior section an excellent tee time for competitions, and also encourages higher ability juniors to compete in men’s and ladies competitions, and represent the Club in men’s league team matches. I trust our junior members appreciate this is a privilege given to a successful section. Harry Fearn this season reached the final of the men’s Jackson Trophy (scratch knock out competition) – a fine individual performance, and a reflection of the standards our juniors can reach within the adult section.
Finally (!), I would like to congratulate the Junior Captain, Charles Holland, on a successful year “in office”. He has been a credit to himself, his family, and the junior section in how he has conducted matters at the club during the year. I hope he has enjoyed the experience, and continues his membership of Leek Golf Club.
On behalf of the Junior Committee