The Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs has launched its junior academy at Longhirst Hall Golf Club.
Making full use of the facilities at Longhirst, including the floodlit driving range and improved short game practice facilities, the union will use the club as a base for its junior development pathway for boys from across the county.
County captain David Gilroy, who has played a key role in creating the link with Longhirst, said: “The opening of the academy, and the wider programme of junior development within Northumberland, has been needed for a number of years and it is really exciting to get this project off the ground.
“Thanks to the support of Longhirst we now have a place to bring together our most talented players on a regular basis. This will create a great atmosphere for player development and provide a route for talented players to progress through the junior squads and on into the men’s squad in the future.
“The county executive and junior committee can’t thank Tommy Dawson and Graham Chambers at Longhirst enough for their support. They’ve given great support to the initiative already and made the whole thing possible.”
Longhirst director of golf Graham Chambers added: “We’ve developed a fantastic relationship with the county union in the last few years and this academy is a further extension of that relationship.
“This is another feather in our cap and we’re excited to welcome the best young players in our area to use our facilities and to see them grow into the county’s best players in the coming years.”
The academy will host the county’s U12, U14 and U16 squads for monthly sessions led by a team of the region’s best coaches.
The U12 squad, which will be brought together in January, will work with Tynemouth’s John McKenna and Longhirst’s Carl Nicholls; Carl and Arcot Hall’s Kris Bengtsson will coach the U14 squad; and Westerhope’s George Cowan and Michael Nesbit will coach the U16 squad.
The launch event welcomed the county’s best youngsters along with former England U18 captain Matty Lamb, England Golf president Desmond Duffy and three-time European Tour winner Ken Ferrie.