Rising golf star teed up success at Dereham

Young Harriet Allsebrook, who learned her golf at Dereham, is bowing out of Norfolk golf on a high – as the winner of the county girls' much-prized Handicap Challenge.

Harriet, who has just celebrated her 12th birthday, reduced her handicap in the 2010 season from 31 to 19. She's already close to getting down to 18, and her target for next year is single figures.

But she'll be displaying her improving talents in Shropshire, rather than in Norfolk.

Her father, Neil, who has been the Dereham professional for the past eight years, has been appointed head pro at the prestigious Shifnal club and the family will be moving at the end of next month.

Harriet's mum, Maria, is also the Dereham secretary and she commented: 'It's a great step for Neil and we are very much looking forward to it – but the move is also tinged with great sadness.

'Golf isn't just a job, it's like being part of an extended family.'

She added: 'We have to say a big thank you to the Norfolk ladies. They really have encouraged Harriet, and what they do for all the girls is amazing.'

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Harriet was quite uninterested in golf when the family moved to Dereham – tennis, swimming and horses were her preferred options.

But, after spending time in the pro shop and watching the members tee-off she decided to have a go.

She got her first handicap at the end of summer 2009 and was down to 31 in time for the start of this year's Handicap Challenge.

She made a rapid start by winning the Norfolk girls' Spring Shield and went on to amass a string of successes as her handicap dropped and dropped.

'She's had a super year,' said Maria. 'Neil knew she had it in her but he didn't think it would happen quite so quickly.'

Harriet had been keeping a weather eye on the challenge but had expected to be pipped at the end.

'When she found she had won we just looked at each other and said 'Wow',' said Maria. 'It was a genuine surprise.'

Now, she's planning plenty of hard work to meet her ambitions for next year. As well as getting down to single figures she wants to be able to outdrive her father – and he's giving her a helping hand. Her birthday presents included a custom fitting at Ping for a new driver.

The Handicap Challenge is sponsored by the ladies of Royal West Norfolk and prizes were awarded in categories.

Overall: Harriet Allsebrook (Dereham) reduced from 31-19. Handicaps 36-21: Jessica Dixon (Thetford) 32-22. Handicaps 20-13: Gabriella Masding (Royal Norwich) 18-14. Handicaps 12-scratch: Ruby Plume (Marriott Sprowston) 12-9.