New county stars set to step up

Harry Ellis. Picture: Tom Ward
Harry Ellis. Picture: Tom Ward
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin

Gregory misses out

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Talented young players from the region are ready to step up and fill the void ahead of the new county season.

With Meon Valley’s Harry Ellis among those who are now too old to play for the under-18s, the search is on for new blood to take the team to a third successive England Golf boys’ national final.

And Hayling’s five-handicapper George Burbidge, Meon Valley’s scratch player Mason Banger, Josh Sturt – a four-handicapper from Rowlands Castle – and Southwick Park’s Ed Welton, who plays off one, are expected to be in contention for selection and lead the team’s charge in the regional qualifier in May.

County junior manager, John Moore, said: ‘We’ve got some very good young players coming through.

‘It’s looking good that we have got a few players off scratch and others who are off very good handicaps and getting better all the time.

‘It’s difficult when you lose your best players like Harry.

‘But there are always one or two you hope can come through and step up. It’s their opportunity now.

‘We might be missing those stand-out players at the moment but these are young lads with a lot of potential and they can improve so much at this age. It’s up to them.’

While much of the focus is understandably on the biggest event, Moore insists there is far more to it than competing in tournaments, such as the national finals at Sandiway, Cheshire, in August.

He said: ‘We have the England Golf boys’ south east regional qualifier in May at Copthorne in Sussex.

‘We have qualified for the national finals for the past two years and the aim is to make it three years on the trot, which hasn’t been done.

‘The aim is to develop them as golfers, and if that means they eventually go on to become professionals, so much the better.

‘But we want to keep them involved in county golf as much as we can.’

Moore, who is now in his third year of running the under-18s, has also been involved with the younger age groups.

He said: ‘I’ve been lucky to work with some of these very good young players.

‘It’s not just the under-18s – we get them from the age of 10 sometimes. It’s a long process.

‘We will speak to junior organisers and get an idea of some of the talented players.

‘But they will come in for special coaching.

‘We are finding these young golfers with talent and then nurturing them to develop and come through the system.’