Under 14 Championships

This week the Under 14 Championships for the Reid Trophy is being held at the Kendleshire Golf Club outside Bristol. For many of the players it will be a first taste of what golf at a fairly high level is like. The EGU know how to run their Championships and this one is not exception. The course will be properly set up, the referees all geared up and the scores posted on the big score boards outside the caravan. At the end of the tournament somebody will leave with a nice trophy, crowned as the best Under 14 golf in the country.

I always have mixed feelings about appointing National Champions at that young age. A number of the better players in the World had hardly started playing golf at that age, let alone found the fairway enough times to even consider competing at a National level. Others were already soon to become Champions and had dominated their age group for years already. The tricky one is that it is very difficult to determine who is going to go on to be the great player of the future. I have seen under 14 Champions disappear of the radar completely before the age of 19 which kind of makes you worry why we bothered to find out who the best under 14 was in the first place. I have seen other under 14 Champions become European Tour players before they left their teenage years. What I do wonder quite often though is why we insist of having this age focus in a sport like golf. It is not exactly a body contact sport, nor is it necessarily a sport where the development of the right playing mindset comes with age. It is for a fact a sport that we can play against like minded and like skilled regardless of age. In fact, that is what I think we should do a lot more of – play with those that give us a good challenge – regardless of how old they are. So instead of going to the World under 9 Championships as some parents seem to think is a great idea (and perhaps it is for all sorts of other reasons…), think about where that under 9 waiting to become a champion could get the challenge that he or she needs. I have a feeling that could be found at the next door club!

So is there then any reason to crown an Under 14 National Champion? Of course there is. Kids like to compete and fantastic inspiration an energy can come from having something like this as a target to aim for. The only problems are if the Champion starts thinking that he or she is now the best in the country or if the rest of the players in the field think they are not good enough, or worse, can’t become good enough. There are throusands of players in the country that are better then the Under 14 Champion. They just happen to be of a different age. So all the Champion needs to do is to go and find the next challenge. And for those that did not win – I guarentee that there are more top 10 players in the World that never won the Under 14 Championship than those that did!

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