Golf At Goodwood continues to enhance its reputation as a venue for junior golfers with the appointment of one of the team to the role of Sussex Golf Development academy coach.
Craig Gardner, PGA professional at the West Sussex estate, has been selected by the county’s governing body to coach nine to 15-year-olds with the primary aim to deliver county-standard golfers in the future.
The prominent role will include regular coaching sessions for academy players, developing individual training plans and hosting selection days to identify young players with potential to join the programme.
In his day-to-day role at Goodwood as junior co-ordinator, Gardner is part of a highly-successful coaching team that has seen a 40 per cent increase in junior membership over the past 12 months.
With just over 56,000 junior golf club members throughout England, the average number of juniors per club is just 29 and Goodwood is bucking the trend with 85 juniors to date.
Gardner said: “Here at Goodwood we actively encourage newcomers from as young as three years old to have a go at golf through taster sessions, linking up with local schools and also encouraging families to try golf for a day here at our academy. The emphasis has to be on accessibility and affordability when there are so many activities for children to choose from today”.
“We want young people to develop basic playing skills which leads to both physical and psychological benefits associated with improvement, personal achievement and most importantly life long participation in sport.”
Goodwood’s growing status as a centre of excellence has been further boosted by the onsite presence of Olympic strength and conditioning coach Steve Gent, who is now based at the academy.
Gent helped prepare athletes for three Olympic Games from 2004 who between them totalled more than 17 Olympic medals as well as 90 podium finishes in world and European championships.
Gent has developed a systematic approach to golf conditioning that integrates fully with the services already on offer at the Golf Academy.
After three rounds of the Cowdray Park seniors’ captain’s prize, ten players were in close contention on a closely-packed leaderboard, ready for the final round.
This was played under sunny, spring-like conditions with one player even wearing shorts.
The course is drying out quickly with buggies back in use, giving some players the chance to play for the first time this year.
First pair out, Jan de Vries and David Balfour, came in with an excellent combined score of 78, with de Vries scoring 42 points despite failing to score at one hole.
This enhanced his overall score by ten points to 114, having been able to drop his lowest score of 32. Not long after, the day’s overall pairs’ winners came in the shape of David Darby (38) and Gary Strowbridge (41) with a combined score of 79.
Playing alongside them was Nick Austin, who withstood the pressure of being in a challenging position, to score 35 points to give him a winning overall score of 117.
Towards the end of the day, the best individual score of 43 came from Mike Cardiff, despite him having failed to score on two holes, to earn himself a handicap reduction.
Leading pairs’ scores: 1 David Darby & Gary Strowbridge 79; 2 Jan de Vries & David Balfour 78; 3 John Doran & Graham Thompson 77. Best individual scores on the day: 1 Mike Cardiff 43; 2 Jan de Vries 42; 3 Gary Strowbridge 41. Leading overall scores over three of four rounds: 1 Nick Austin 117; 2 Brian Brockhurst, Terry Jasper, Gary Strowbridge and Jan de Vries all with 114; 6 Mike King 113, 7 John Lee and Graham Thompson both 112.