Meeting their heroes

The British Masters at Close House was a major success in many ways. Alan Hedley reports

Besides attracting massive crowds the European Tour, Sky Sports and Close House with host Lee Westwood came up with a quality field and a series of innovative events such as the Junior Masters, Hero Challenge and Sky Zone masterclasses at this year’s British Masters. Two youngsters – Andrew Griffith and Arron Mansfield – had a whale of a time and they share their experiences with us here…

Arron Mansfield is becoming something of a veteran in the television golfing world at the tender age of just nine.

The Stanley youngster was a social media sensation earlier this year after the aspiring golfer was given a surprise birthday present by the European Tour after dad Gavin contacted them.

He met up with major winners Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer alongside Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston during a journey from his home to Wentworth ahead of the BMW PGA Championship in May.

During the British Masters at Close House, Arron was back in front of the cameras alongside Sky Sports Nick Dougherty and PGA instructor John Glenn to demonstrate a new visual tool called Colour Path Golf, which is being used to inspire the next generation of golfers.

With Arron as the pupil, Glenn explained the thinking behind the new exercise with coloured shapes which helps simplify the swing and Arron obliged by thumping a great drive down the middle visibly impressing Dougherty.

Arron also met up again with Martin Kaymer during the Hero Challenge and was given a signed ball – one of eight he got from players including Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Andy Sullivan, Graeme Storm and Alexander Levy plus a signed glove from Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Storm joked with Aaron why he wasn’t one of his favourites when he listed the players during his Wentworth taxi ride and said he would love to see Arron play in the Graeme Storm Junior Open next year.

Finally, Glenn gave Arron his own kit to use and is currently doing some videos with Arron using the kit for use on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Arron, who plays out of RLI Golf Academy at George Washington Golf Club, has his own Instagram page @am7golf where you can follow his progress.


Andrew Griffiths had a week to remember at Close House.

After winning the under-12 category in the Junior Masters, the Thorp Academy student ended up caddying for Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez during the Hero Par 3 Challenge.

Andrew, who works with European Tour golfer Graeme Storm at Thorp Academy, was then asked to appear in front of the cameras with Nick Dougherty at the Sky Swing Zone.

It didn’t stop there for the 11-year-old from Seaton Delaval as he was invited to take on Graeme McDowell at the par three fifth hole in the Beat the Pro event and managed to beat the former US Open champion! The video is on the Sky Sports website and the shot won him a set of custom-fit PING clubs.

“It was just fantastic,” said Andrew. “Lee congratulated me when I won my category at the Junior Masters then I got to carry his bag when he played alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez on the night in front of lots of people at the Hero Challenge. I was quite nervous but got a ball from him at the end.

“I also got to meet Rory McIlroy on the Wednesday because my friend, Henry Joynson, won the overall category in the Junior Masters so he got to meet him in the pro am and I was with him.

“Then I got to do the interview with Sky Sports and play with Graeme McDowell. I was really happy. It was a really nice experience.

“Graeme was really nice. He helped me to line up my putt and I beat him on that fifth hole, over the water, and there was plenty people watching. You can watch it on the internet. He didn’t need to do that, and he was really nice.

“There was a lot of pressure when I was on the tee but it felt good. It’s made me feel like I can handle things now. I want to be a professional golfer when I am older and this has made me want to do it even more.”