Competitors were eager to hit the range as soon as possible and with ten minutes to go until the first tee time there was not an inch of space on the putting green; it was completely covered by well-polished drills and surrounded by family wishing them well. It was sure to be a great day but in the corner of every competitors eye were the range flags flying aggressively in what was quickly becoming a very strong wind!
The 14 competitors included 13 boys and one girl; with over half the field playing off single figure handicaps. The title of Junior Club Champion 2017 was anyone's. The tournament was an 18 hole medal format with prizes for the top two gross scores and the top two nett scores. The prize table looked enticing with a Callaway golf bag stood next to the large silver cup and various other prizes surrounding them, including golf balls and caps. Also at stake was a chance to qualify for the Telegraph Vitality Junior Championship held at Quinta Do Lago, Portugal and televised by Sky Sports; the winning scores from each category (gross, nett, U14’s and girls) are entered onto a national leaderboard and the top 10 from each category are invited to Quinta Do Lago to compete in the 'once in a lifetime' event.
It was a tough day for our juniors, the white tees were almost back to the plates and the wind was punishing however, they fought hard and some fantastic golf was played. Ethan Stride(17) made a birdie 2 on the 8th, a fantastic 7 iron shot from Joe Sykes(6) finished close to a difficult pin position on the 15th and a risky final drive from Alexander Westerdijk(9) paid off. As Westerdijk approached his perfectly placed ball a modest smile sat across his face, he knew his score was good and that he could be a contender if he could just make bogey or better on this hole.
The clubhouse leader, as Westerdijk’s group approached the 18th green was William O’Halloran(9) with a gross score of 83. The start sheet being in reverse handicap order meant that the final group, Max Herring(6) and Sykes were beginning to make their way down the final hole when up ahead, Westerdijk rolled his putt in for a bogey 5 securing a gross score of 80. The pressure then shifted onto the defending champion, Sykes, who had just bogeyed the 17th. He needed to make par on the last hole if he was to knock Westerdijk from his top spot and retain his title as Junior Club Champion. It was an unfortunate finish for Sykes who's putt for par edged past the hole to finish with a gross 81 making this the runner-up; a position which had to be settled on countback to Jamie Burchell(10) who played brilliantly and finished in 3rd place.
The nett competition was won by Burchell with a nett 71 and runner-up was Yasmin Hang(9) also with a nett 71, missing out on countback. Nearest the pin prizes were picked up by Sykes for his efforts at the 12th and O'Halloran who was closest after two shots on the 6th hole. The top four net scores of the day came from Burchell, Westerdijk, Hang and O'Halloran who have been invited to represent Golf At Goodwood in the Paraons Memorial Trophy, a 36 hole, county foursomes event which takes place later this summer.
After a quick gathering for photos, 14 large pizzas and an enormous mountain of chips appeared from The Kennels kitchen. Chris McDonnell PGA, Academy Manager, hosted prize giving and the competitors were treated to a wonderfully confident acceptance speech from their new Club Champion, Alexander Westerdijk.