Date: October 24, 2012
Author: Megan Clifton

It took a team – the result?…a great junior camp

Coonabarabran in conjunction with the Jack Newton Junior Golf Foundation and the Western Districts Ladies Golf Association hosted the annual junior golf coaching camp during the October school holidays.

Since 1972 alternate towns within the western districts zone have held these camps which cater for girls and boys from 9 to 17 years.

The Western district zone consists of some 47 clubs extending from Lightening Ridge in the west and West Wyalong in the south. Unfortunately only a handful of these clubs have the luxury of a resident golf professional.

Visiting PGA professionals Matt Maquire (Moree), Eddie Emerson (Sydney), Bob Richards ( Sydney) as well as Sharon Nott (Jack Newton Junior golf promotions officer – Dunedoo) ran coaching clinics each day. Eddie Emerson a PGA life member has been promoting golf and providing opportunities for young golfers from regional NSW since 2004.

Emerson explained how during his youth golf was extremely restrictive for juniors. He now works tirelessly in the junior development area and runs regular “bush to city” golf camps. Bob Richards also a PGA member was the long serving professional at Warringah Golf Club from 1966 – 2002, whilst Matt Maguire originally from Binnaway took a break from Moree Golf Club to share his expertise with the participants.

Over the years the camp (previously held in July) has contributed to many a rural player following their golfing dream. Rebecca Artis, nee Flood, ( Coonabarabran ) now plays on the European, Australasian and American professional tour; whilst Emma Betland (Forbes) has won a scholarship to the U.S.A. Many others have taken on the position of PGA (Professional Golf Association) professionals at major courses around Australia.

The camp attracted players from Wee Waa, Tottenham, Cumnock,Baradine, Mudgee, Neilrex, Nyngan, Bathurst as well as a large contingency from Coonabarabran. The clinics provided an opportunity for these enthusiastic youngsters to play with others the same age, access an invaluable knowledge base and realise they are not so isolated.

Skills, drills, basic rules but most importantly fun was the theme of the camp with driving, chipping, bunker play, eliminating the dreaded three putt, golf etiquette and sportsmanship all covered.

The final day Friday saw the Western District Ladies Golf Association Junior 18 hole Championship open to competitors with handicaps whilst the remainder played in the 9 hole Pump Shootout.

Hannah Smith (Tottenham) won the girls 18 hole scratch and Ellie Capewell (Coonabarabran) came runner up. Zak Kelly (Coonabarabran) took out the boys 18 hole scratch with Bailey Reedman (Coonabarabran) as runner up. The 9 hole girls pump shootout was won by Hannah Harris (Coonabarabran); with Bailey Milford (Coonabarabran) winning the boys ahead of golfing rookie – Harley Clifton (Coonabarabran).

Camps such as these do not “just happen” without a band of merry helpers.

Chook Chapman, accessed the professionals each day to extend his golfing knowledge for the betterment of those children attending Coonabarabran Junior Golf and also donned his BBQ apron to cook up a storm. Carmen Reedman was always at hand getting whatever was asked of her.

The lady golfers fired up their stoves to provide morning, afternoon tea and lunch daily. Orana Community Mutual, via the manager Jan Grant, provided a number of prizes for the final days competition, as well as the golfing men who donated a large number of golf balls for prizes.

John Kinsella (green keeper) had the course in such immaculate condition. The Coonabarabran players were very tolerant of the extra bodies on the course during their regular competition rounds.

A special thanks to those parents and volunteers who walked around with the players on Friday. There were a lot of sweaty and exhausted bodies at the end of their rounds, both adult and children.

Everyone's generosity, be it in time, cooking or donation of trophies was greatly appreciated.

Sharon Nott, the Jack Newton Golf Development Officer, ran a superb Country Junior Golf Program. This not only refines the golfing talent of these young athletes, but also develops their skills for life. Most importantly an even bigger thank you to all the juniors who attended the camp. Their conduct was exemplary and we hope they enjoyed the experience, build on their golfing skills and development.