One El’ of a team

Ellie Givens is looking forward to another productive year on the Ladies European Tour, but she’ll have to find someone new to carry her bag with teenage caddie and elite amateur Ellie Gower heading off to college in the US.

Gower has been mentored by Darlington-based Givens while combining caddying and playing. Gower, 17, is an England girls cap and has landed a scholarship at the University of Colorado Boulder, which she starts later this year.

Givens, who represents Rockliffe Hall, has been mentoring young golfers as a regional associate with ProDreamUSA, the Glasgow-based golf scholarship consultancy, and also works with the Durham County Ladies team.

A member of the tour’s board of directors since March 2019, Givens played college golf at Denver before turning professional in 2012. She has supported young players throughout her professional career, but the link with Gower is a particularly strong one and she’s delighted to see her protégé taking the next step in her own career.

Gower struck up a friendship with Givens five years ago following a chance encounter at the 2014 Lacoste Ladies Open at Biarritz. It was a friendship that changed the youngster’s focus and saw her improve from a 36 handicapper into an England international.

“I started watching Ellie at that first event because we had the same name,” said Gower, who is based in Perth, Scotland having lived in France as a youngster. “At the end, she came up and had a chat. We kept in touch through Facebook and the next year she asked me to caddie for her at that event. I was 12 when I first caddied and she finished 11th that year – so I must have done alright. I’ve caddied for five years now and it’s been amazing. It’s good being inside the ropes, watching how she practices and how she does a course planner – all the things you wouldn’t normally see in detail.”

Like Givens, Gower’s father Brian is a PGA professional. However, Gower showed no real desire to play until meeting Givens.

Givens said: “I first met Ellie when she had just turned 12. At that point, she played a little bit and her dad thought it might increase her enthusiasm if she came to watch us play.

“I noticed them watching my group on all four days, so went and thanked them at the end of the tournament. We stayed in touch and things went from there. It’s been so rewarding to watch Ellie’s golf develop and I’m very proud of her achievements so far. It’s been amazing to see how someone can develop from almost beginner level to a top-level amateur in a relatively short space of time.”

Having finished in 42nd place in the 2019 order of merit, Givens will play a full Ladies European Tour schedule in 2020 – beginning with a trip to South Africa in March.