Walkley sets national sights

Hampshire Order of Merit winner Darren Walkley   Picture: Andrew Griffin
Hampshire Order of Merit winner Darren Walkley Picture: Andrew Griffin
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Darren Walkley admits this year’s defence of his Hampshire Order of Merit crown may be affected by his attempts to make an impression at national level.

The Hayling amateur enjoyed an excellent year on the regional circuit and claimed the inaugural order of merit prize after a run of consistent performances.

But with his playing handicap now cut to an impressive plus three, Walkley has set his sights on some of the bigger amateur events in the country as he puts in the practice for the 2015 campaign.

Walkley said: ‘I will try to play in as many Hampshire events as I can but I will be focusing more on the national events.

‘I’m off plus three so that means I can get into things like the Lytham Trophy, the St Andrews Links and the English Amateur.

‘I want to try to defend the Hampshire Order of Merit but I can get into most of the national events because of my handicap now so I will run my schedule around that.

‘I definitely want to play in the County Championships and I want to defend the Delhi Cup.

‘I want to play in the bigger ones but there are some I won’t play.’

Walkley collected the gross prize and was presented with the Cullen Quaich trophy and a cheque for £250 at the recent Hampshire AGM.

And he will start his defence at the Delhi Cup – a title he won last year – at Hockley in May.

He said: ‘I didn’t win as much as I wanted to last year – but I won the Delhi, which helped.

‘I didn’t do as well in the County Championships as I wanted to but I played consistently for most of the events.’

County secretary David Wheeler explained a subtle change to the new points system is in place to reward the winner of an event.

Wheeler said: ‘We have changed the breakdown of points to make it more rewarding to win an event.

‘Last year, the winner got 10 points down to one point in the top 10.

‘But now the winner will get 15 points so there is more incentive to actually win the event.

‘We’ve kept the same events in the schedule. It was well supported and hopefully it will go from strength to strength.

‘It’s a good stepping stone for talented golfers and allows us to find some new talent at the same time.

‘We can’t be aware of everyone in the county so it’s a good chance for the captains to keep an eye on some of the up and coming players.’

Walkley has been braving the weather in recent weeks and is pleased with his progress.

He said: ‘I’ve been playing a lot and I’ve been practising a lot as well.

‘I’m not really one for standing on the range and hitting a lot of balls. I get bored too easily.

‘At Hayling, when the wind is up, it can feel freezing.

‘You have to wear so many layers, you can hardly swing the club.

‘But it’s been going pretty well.’

His practice shedule may also have to take a back seat for a while after he became a father for the second time to a daughter, River Mai, last week.

But he believes the new addition to the family will spur him on.

He said: ‘My golf got a lot better when we had the first one. I hope that happens again!’

For more information on the Hampshire Order of Merit, visit hampshire