Young golf star among best in country

editorial image

A successful young golfer following in her family’s footsteps and love for the sport has high hopes of one day turning professional and joining the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour.

Nine-year-old Amelia Wan, who is playing off a 20 handicap, capped a terrific summer at the Wee Wonders Championships final at St Andrew’s, Scotland.

Playing on the Balgove course at the famous venue, the youngster was third in the 9-10 years category with a score of 96 (+6)– making her officially among the best under-10s girl golfers in the UK and Ireland.

The tournament, which sees the best young golfers in the country compete at strokeplay over three rounds of nine holes, was founded in 1995 in Scotland by Alasdair Good, head PGA Professional at Gullane Golf Club.

It quickly grew to become the only tournament with full national coverage for children aged 5 to 12 and provides an opportunity for entry into competitive golf for both youngsters new to the game and more experienced young players.

Amelia, who plays out of Rufford Park Golf Club, said: “I feel proud and happy that I have achieved so much so young and hope there will be more to come.”

Earlier this summer she won the Beeston Junior Open, the Lee Westwood Worksop Guardian Junior Open and carded the best nett score at the Lindrick Junior Open as well as finishing in the top 10 at other junior opens.

The youngster, who lives in Weston, near Newark, and is a pupil at East Markham Primary School, has been playing golf since she was five after her father, Alex, took her to the driving range with him and her younger brother, Ethan.

She said: “My father and late grandfather, Simon Wan, were very keen golfers and played a lot, so my father decided to take me to Rufford Park driving range and taught me how to swing. Since then it’s all been practice, practice, practice.”

“The things I enjoy most about golf is the competing, hitting balls and sinking crucial putts, my father told me that a famous player once said that the more I practiced the luckier I would get so I make sure I practice when I can.”

Amelia has progressed since those early beginnings, but only gained her handicap of 33 towards the end of last season.

A few weeks later, when still aged just eight, she won the Nottinghamshire Schools Handicap Trophy staged at Rufford Park Golf Club.

Now Amelia plays at Rufford around twice a week, mainly after school, and tries to go on to the range at least once a week. She is also guided by two professionals at the club, John Vaughan and James Thompson.

“They have helped me heaps,” she said. “I would say my driving and iron play would be the strongest part of my game, but if I can get my short game together then I would be much better.”

The youngster’s short-term ambition is to get her handicap down to single figures before she goes to secondary school.

“Long-term I hope to one day become a professional golfer and play on the LPGA tour,” Amelia said. “In father will always be an inspiration for me, but on a professional front I see Tiger Woods and Lydia Ko as other inspirations.”

Ko became the number one ranked woman professional golfer last year aged just 17 years and nine months, the youngest player of either sex ever to reach the top ranking.

Amelia has enjoyed visiting different courses, like St Andrews and Woburn (where she watched the ladies’ British Open). “It has been really interesting, but the main highlight has to be winning the trophies and competing to a good standard,” she said.

Her proud father, Alex, added: “As a golfer myself I acknowledge how difficult the game is. For Amelia to have been able to achieve what she has at such a young age means I can’t help but feel that the future is bright for her.

“She is such a level-headed, mature girl and that only helps her throughout her progression.”

Another high-performing local golfer at the Wee Wonders British final at St Andrews tournament was seven-year-old Charlotte Maiden, of Fiskerton, who shot the lowest score in the five to eight years category and qualified for the junior world championships in the USA, where she will play at Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina.