A round with… Jason Budd

The Northern Junior Golf Tour founder chooses his favourite courses, selects three players to join his dream fourball, and shares much more

As founder of the Northern Junior Golf Tour – which will see some 500 youngsters play in its events across six counties this year – and England Golf’s regional manager for the north of England, Jason Budd spends more time than most at golf clubs and tournaments in our region. Since joining England Golf in 2007 and setting up the tour in 2009, Jason has walked and played many of our best courses and we caught up with him to share some of those experiences…

How much golf do you get to play?
I try and play as much golf as I can at my home club – Brancepeth Castle – between work, family life and running the junior tour. I also still try and play a bit of cricket and do some DJing, so it’s a busy schedule, but I still get a couple of rounds in each week in the summer. I’m hoping to get my handicap down from 5.5 to four this year – but time will tell!

How did you get into golf?
My grandad, who was a member of Knotty Hill, got me playing early. He would take me along with him – on the course and the driving range. Cricket took over as I got a bit older, but I’ve managed to keep the two going side-by-side.

Which is your favourite course in the North East?
It has to be Brancepeth Castle. I like the challenge it presents – you need to drive it well and have a broad mix of skills to score well around there.

And further afield?
I love golf by the sea and try to get to Dunstanburgh and Goswick at least a couple of times each year. A bit further afield, playing Kingsbarns and Turnberry were very special experiences.

What’s your best score?
Two over-par, which I’ve managed at Crook and Bishop Auckland. My goal is to shoot level par at Brancepeth for the first time this season.

Which is your favourite golfing memory?
While I was a member at Crook, I had an albatross at the par five 17th. The shot into the green is blind, so I didn’t see it go in, but the excitement of finding my ball at the bottom of the cup will be very hard to beat. The £5.50 I picked up for that two didn’t do it justice!

What about embarrassing moments on the course?
There are lots – ranging from trying to play after nights out to my first round with a handicap. The one individual moment that stands out is hitting a shot over the clubhouse into the car park on the 18th at Crook, which is equally embarrassing and impressive.

Do you have any golfing superstitions?
I always have to have my Celtic Manor pitch mark repair tool with me and I get a bit panicky if I can’t find it in my pocket.

What are your strengths on the course?
My putting is pretty decent and I tend to read greens well.

And your weaknesses?
My driving can be erratic and while I’m long, controlling direction can be difficult at times.

Which is your favourite club in the bag?
Despite my previous answer, the recent addition of the TaylorMade Sim 2 Max driver has been fantastic. It’s very forgiving and has given me a lot of confidence off the tee.

Who is your best golfing friend?
My younger brother, Richard. He’s improving as a golfer all the time and our games are getting more competitive. We always have a good laugh – though that might change if he manages to beat me for the first time.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in golf?
My background is in sports development and having worked in basketball then for the NHS, my dream was to have a career combining my skills with my passion for golf. If I wasn’t working in golf, maybe I could have been a globe-trotting DJ.

Who is your favourite tour player?
I love watching Rory McIlroy, he makes golf look so easy. I also enjoy following Lee Westwood – his longevity and the way he keeps the ball under control is so impressive.

Which golf events do you  enjoy most?
Going to The Open is a special experience and seeing the players work out links courses is so much fun. Seeing Jordan Spieth win at Royal Birkdale was just phenomenal.

Who do you admire?
My girlfriend, Fran. She’s an amazing mum and supports me in everything I want to do, which has been so important as I’ve gone off and done lots of different things in my career and in sport. I also need to mention my mam, who is just incredible.

Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
Tiger Woods, Freddie Flintoff and Jazzy Jeff – those three bring together my three passions perfectly.

If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?
Keep it, I’ve got no regrets.