JJ crowned coach of the year

JJ Vallely has been honoured with a coaching award from England Golf.

JJ, who is based at Matfen Hall in Northumberland and coaches the England Golf North Region girls’ squad, was named Squad Coach of the Year at a gala dinner at Woodhall Spa Golf Club.

Three outstanding female golfers who have all come through the North squad have helped to shine the spotlight on JJ’s work.

Cumbria’s Caitlin Whitehead won the European Young Masters and then helped Europe to a clean sweep in the Asia Pacific Junior Championship, while Jess Baker and Rosie Belsham have played their way into the national squad.

“There’s a lot more waiting in the wings,” said JJ. “They’re on a mission, they’ve been pulled along by watching Caitlin, Rosie and Jess, they’re inspired and it’s given them belief. It’s like a mini-explosion and we want to keep it going.”

JJ, who is supported by squad manager Bryan Ross, ensures there is a pipeline of talent by also coaching the girls in the North of England Futures, made up of players who are pushing for places in the regional line-up. Jess and Rosie were among the early intake and together with two other girls, knocked a total of 50 shots off their handicaps in their first season.

JJ, who has been involved with England training for 12 years, added: “I absolutely love it, I live and breathe it. You do make a lot of sacrifices, but it’s really satisfying to help them understand their game and themselves. Some of the skills and habits they develop are wider reaching than golf and will stand them in good stead with whatever they do.”