Dereham's golfing success
Dereham Golf Club can celebrate a success story before the new season gets under way - thanks to their remarkable junior section. The nine-hole club boasts a large and very active group of youngsters who are encouraged to get out and play.
Dereham Golf Club can celebrate a success story before the new season gets under way - thanks to their remarkable junior section.
The nine-hole club boasts a large and very active group of youngsters who are encouraged to get out and play.
When the junior committee held its annual summer bank holiday greensome competition 38 youngsters turned out, each paired on this occasion by an adult partner. Parents and grandparents turned up for the evening barbecue to swell the numbers to more than 100.
The section is thriving at all levels, from the seven-year-olds without handicaps up to those who are in county squads, and its success says much for the commitment of its junior committee.
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Last summer they had to cap the membership at 60, so they could accommodate the large number without handicaps. Some left junior ranks at the end of the season and there was also some natural wastage - but four more have already joined over the winter months. One girl received her membership as a Christmas present.
The section currently has 57 members, of whom 10 are girls, and it has probably doubled over the last four years.
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'I don't know how we do it,' laughed junior secretary Jane Bizley. But she counts it as an advantage that many youngsters can walk or bike to the club and word-of-mouth at school brings others in.
Once they arrive at the club the juniors are well looked after. Professional Neil Allsebrook runs coaching session for the novices on Sundays and these have been so well supported that he's had to split the group into two. They include non-handicappers and non-members.
Every week from April to mid-August the junior committee turn out to run the Monday Club: a two-hour turn-up session when the youngest players are taken on the course. Last year, they averaged about 20 each week and some of the older, handicapped juniors, were recruited to help out.
The regular junior competitions are supported by healthy numbers of youngsters, who play according to their ability. The handicappers play 18-holes, the next group play nine and the youngest tackle five.
There's a junior event every month, except in November and January. In December, 33 juniors & seven adult committee members and helpers abandoned the course in favour of a ten-pin bowling.
But they were soon back playing in the adult/junior Texas scramble which attracted nine teams, each including three juniors. The winning team were Nic Cains, John Leeder, Joshua Thexton & Connor Baldry who each received a voucher for the pro shop.
'We are lucky that we have a lot of support in the club,' said Jane, who is pleased to note that some youngsters have also brought in adult members.
'We've had parents and grandparents come back to the game,' she said. 'One little boy who started this summer kept on and on at his grandfather so much that granddad is now having lessons and got a new golf bag for Christmas!'
Dereham is working towards its GolfMark award, which recognises junior and beginner friendly clubs.
The Dereham junior open will be held on Friday, August 7 as part of the club's 75th anniversary week.