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junior golf competitions

Should juniors be able to play in all adult competitions?

Are clubs right to place restrictions on when juniors can play, or should it just be a free-for-all? Two of our writers debate
 

Thonock Park hit the headlines after their ladies’ voted to ban juniors from some competitions.

Ping, the Lincolnshire club’s proprietors, stepped in and reversed the decision but it has opened an interesting debate.

With juniors improving, often at rapid rates, we’re asking whether they should be allowed to play in all of a club’s competitions, or wait until they have reached a certain age, or standard, to join in?

‘Was all this talk of growing the game just a sham?’

Given golf has spent much of the last decade wringing its hands over ways of encouraging youth to put down their games console and pick up a club, it’s utterly perplexing why – once you’ve got them over the threshold – you’d spend your time thinking of ways to drive them away, says Steve Carroll

The main bar to participation in all events seems to be this: they’ll probably win. Do you know how bitter that sounds?

Shouldn’t you cherish the success of tomorrow’s generation? Wouldn’t it be nice to revel in their achievements, rather than carping about a £10 voucher?

I play at a club where there are no restrictions on juniors, except for those also in place for adults.

We don’t have presentations dominated by teenagers lifting cups. The prizes are evenly spread. We’re proud of their success and celebrate it.

As the average age of members continues to rise, and the prospects for some clubs look a little bleak without an injection of new blood, wouldn’t it be better to concentrate on making juniors feel an integral part of the club – rather than an irritant until they can turn out for the scratch team?

Or was all this talk of growing the game just a sham?

‘At least 10 of us would have a very strong chance of winning the Autumn Meeting’

Before everyone writes me off as a wrong ‘un all I’d just like to say that as long as everyone plays off the correct handicap then that’s great, writes Mark Townsend.

In my experience as a junior member in the 1980s at least 10 of us would have had a very strong chance of winning the Autumn Meeting – a 36-hole jamboree of golf one weekend in September – had we been allowed to play in it.

If my memory serves me right I think you could enter the scratch side of things but not the handicap, which seemed fair enough given that most of us had just spent every waking hour playing golf in the summer holidays and therefore had improved at quite a lick.

Our handicaps barely moved as there weren’t many comps for us to play in and, generally, nobody paid us much attention in terms of monitoring our scores and you knew you had to score 45 points to have half a chance of competing.

None of us were trying to protect anything, it’s just the way things worked that our handicaps weren’t even close to a reflection of how we could play.

Who gets your vote, Steve or Mark? Have your say in the comments or tweet us.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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