A REVOLUTIONARY new scheme designed to develop and hone the talents of Jersey’s junior golfers has been launched in a bid to boost the sport’s profile within the Island.
And it is hoped that the programme – led by Royal Jersey assistant professional Elliott Pritchard – will lead to more Islanders excelling on the national and international stage.
The Royal Jersey Development Programme has taken on an initial contingent of 25 players, split into performance, development and rookie squads.
Over the next 12 months, the squads will receive individual lessons on a fortnightly basis, along with group lessons available for online sign-up.
Pritchard has been passionate about creating a pathway for junior golfers at Royal Jersey since his arrival on the Island one year ago.
He said: “I just want to give these kids a bit of a platform and a clear roadmap towards achieving their specific goals within the sport
“It is something that when I was a junior, wasn’t there for me and it’s about giving the future generation of our sport every chance at success.
“We have some very talented golfers over here.
“But it is important of not falling into the trap of being quality at 12 or 13 and then being average come the age of 16.
“Living on a small island can definitely give you a false sense of security of thinking you’re better than you are.
“We have a very small pool here and sometimes when our better players travel off-Island they get a bit of a shock at the standard of golfers their age in the UK and further afield.”
The gulf in class between Jersey and Guernsey at junior level was glaringly obvious at this year’s inter-insular, whereby Guernsey claimed a 13.5–1.5 victory on home soil.
Three of the boys in green went on to take part in the men’s inter-insular.
What Jersey are seemingly lacking is players who are in their last couple years as juniors.
Many have dropped off, or no longer pursued golf as they get older – an issue that Pritchard is keen to address.
“We need to give our juniors a reason to stay interested,” he added. “At times, there can be a lack of direction for younger players.
“What we aim to create, is an environment whereby the juniors can excel and also become more confident.
“We will actively encourage the group to play with better players and people they are less familiar with.
“There is a tendency to only play with friends and when they compete in an event with people they don’t know, it can be very daunting.”
The 25 players are separated into Performance, Development and Rookie squads in order to provide bespoke coaching for all abilities.
Along with golf specific coaching, the Performance Squad have sessions at Strive on a weekly basis, with a focus on golf-specific exercises.
Pritchard continued: “We want the programme to be as thorough as possible and encompass all the aspects of golf that are important to thrive.
“I have been in contact with some fellow professionals in Yorkshire and have a few matches against clubs in the mainland scheduled.
“This will allow our players to go toe-to-toe with some elite juniors and really step outside their comfort zone.
“A massive thanks has to go to AP Construction and Pastella Ceramics for their support, as this would not be possible without them.”
Performance Squad: Anabelle Lucas-Villar, Nathan Crake-Jones, Aiden Wilson, Ben Carvalho, Chloe Cadoret, Iman Hamid-Wilkinson, Jacob Townsend.
Development Squad: Oliver Bourke, Eleanor Bourke, Ollie Smith, Jack Burchell, William Aikenhead, William Stratford, Harrison Leggett, Benji O’Mahony, Charlie Hewgill, Marley Austin-Vautier, Tom Agis.
Rookie Squad: Elsa Wanless, Rory Wanless, Henry Edwards, Brandon McLaughlin, Chloe Cosnett, Joe Redmond, Jack Gallon.