Junior golf’s rise is remarkable

SPORTS dip and rise over time.

Lewis Marley is the latest to reach single-figures in handicap.
Lewis Marley is the latest to reach single-figures in handicap. (29718981)

Just a handful of years ago, golf was suffering not only for quality, but, who would have believed it, numbers.

But, boompf, the big solo summer sport has risen again impressively and in no area more so than within the junior ranks, to the extent that Jersey had better watch out.

It was highlighted to me this week that from having barely a junior of any note five years ago, Guernsey now has six of them playing off single figures, with Lewis Marley becoming the latest one.

Two of those youngsters – Ollie Chedhomme and Rory McKenna – are serious options for senior Island selection this September and there is every hope that several more will challenge in the near future.

‘We are not sure when the last time that happened was, but I suspect it may have been done with the likes of the Mick Marley, Rowly [David Rowlinson], Vauds [Nigel Vaudin] generation, but not really sure,’ said Andre Austin, one of a number of key individuals in junior development in recent times.

Austin noted that there are several players on the cusp of single figures and with a lot of golf over the next few weeks Guernsey will see more achieve that status.

‘We have four Hampshire Juniors and I suspect more who will make it onto the county team too,’ he added.

It is very sad, then, that the Junior inter-insular has been cancelled for 2021, but there is every possibility that next year the Guernsey team will all be single figures, which would be completely unprecedented.

In recent summers Guernsey has not been able to field a junior representative side to play their old foes in scratch contests, but now, on paper anyway, the balance of power between the two islands in junior golf has definitely changed in our favour when you compare handicaps and strength in depth.

‘The exciting thing is that there is a production line of much younger, super-talented players behind this lot too,’ said Austin.

‘Would love to see more girls, but we definitely have county potential with the ones we have,’ he added.

Regardless of whether we now hold the whip-hand over Jersey or not, this rapid turnaround in fortunes is magnificent to witness and all those involved deserve congratulation.

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