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CLUB OF THE WEEK: Wrag Barn Juniors
YOUNG golfers are flocking from all over the local area to the edge of Highworth, to a golf club where they can learn with their peers, play against adults and receive structured, high-class coaching.
Wrag Barn Golf Club boasts superb facilities, with a six-hole academy course aimed for beginners and a full course where the handicapped players can hone their skills.
The 40-strong group that makes up the youth section of Wrag Barn Golf Club is split into three levels. Cadet Level One is aimed at the youngest players and beginners, and this group is mainly coached over the academy course, with older players joining Cadet Level Two. The junior group is for those players with a handicap, and they play on the main course.
Junior organiser Richard Ward explains about their coaching programme and the dedication on display.
“Each weekend we have a coaching hour, where the children are taught by our pros Richard Scarrott and David Curl in their separate groups,” he said.
“They will also use our head professional, Ian Ridsdale, at other moments.
“Most of the juniors will arrange their own private coaching at the club, and will do between 15-20 hours of golf each week during the winter months.
“In the summer they are never away from the place. It’s a hive for them.”
Although the main club events take place between April and October, there is no let-up from the club during the winter. Monthly competitions are organised to keep the youngsters interested, and these regularly get a good turnout from the cadets and juniors.
The impressive level of enthusiasm and commitment to golf amongst the youth section was rewarded when the junior team qualified for the International Final, after finishing runner-up in the National Finals. The team became the first in Wiltshire to achieve such a feat, and Ward explains the significance of this accomplishment for himself, the team members and the club.
“It’s brilliant because in 2012 Wrag Barn Juniors won the Wiltshire Championship and the Wiltshire Knockout, and we became the first club to do that double.
“This year we became Wiltshire Champions again, and to do it two years running was phenomenal.
“And then the way we progressed through the regionals, the south of England and then to come runners up in the England final is amazing.
“Personally I could never play to that level, so to be involved through the children is great for me.
“To come runner up in the England final out of 1,200 clubs is a quite phenomenal feat for Wrag Barn.”
Preparations for the International Final in March are well underway, with fundraising events such as a car wash last weekend being organised by the juniors themselves. Meticulous preparations will undoubtedly go into the golfing side also, as the eight young golfers get ready to take on the seven British clubs who will be travelling to Spain.
However, Ward is keen to point out that he is spreading his focus on all the other junior players, not just the team picked for the final, and he is thrilled to see so many budding golfers at Wrag Barn who love to play the game.
“Some golf clubs in Wiltshire have only got five Junior members and that’s it, we are just so lucky at the way it has gone from strength to strength really,” he said.
“Everyone at the club is very supportive of the junior section, from the owners to the senior players.
“It’s wonderful seeing our youngsters competing against adults in our competitions and it’s one of the main pros of golf that 10-year-old players can compete alongside 70-year-olds.
“Many of the juniors have ambitions to be involved in golf in the future, whether that be through playing, event management or sales.
“Four of our juniors have left school and are at sports colleges, and their ambition is to make it into the professional ranks.”
Of course, many of these youngsters dream of following in the footsteps of local golfing hero David Howell, and there is certainly the support structure in place at Wrag Barn to help them do just that.