WHO needs an “X Factor” winter golf series for North youngsters to spot talent when the least densely-populated county in the country is punching well above its weight?
Jack Hermeston, the laidback likely lad from the City of Newcastle club, teed off the current boom last season when he became the first Northumberland player to win the English Under-16 Championship.
Tough as old boots Jake Storey made it two in a row for his county by taking the same national cup, the McGregor Trophy, 34 miles up the road to Foxton this year.
The 2012 season has also seen Hexham’s dashing Matty Lamb make his mark on the international scene at under-14 level by winning the Scottish championship and taking the runners-up spot in the English Championship.
So time to get out the carpet slippers and put the feet up in front of the telly during the cold weather to watch the golf on the telly?
Kendal McWade is having none of that. The England Golf coach for the North, he is responsible for seeking out the international squad players of the future in Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham.
McWade’s already strong reputation as a top-flight coach was enhanced by both Storey and his father Jim, a single-figure player and the head greenkeeper at Foxton, praising him for his contribution to Jake capturing the 2012 McGregor.
Lamb was among the winners at Matfen Hall during the launch of the North of England Under-16 Futures Tour, a winter series of tournaments which incorporates under-14 and under-12 sections plus a skills test.
It was an appropriately historic venue bearing in mind so many players in the region first took up golf at the now sadly-discontinued annual Northern Rock Junior Festivals.
McWade said: “Northumberland has every right to feel proud and delighted after the last two years, but my brief is to leave no stone unturned in all three counties.
“Good young players will benefit from challenging tournaments on good courses for winter golf, when the scores count for their handicaps.
“We are putting on six events before the end of March – two in each county – and the series motto is: ‘you can’t buy hunger’.”
By that, McWade is referring the hungry fighter element sometimes lacking in today’s youngsters over a variety of sports.
He added: “Jake Storey is an example of a hungry fighter. I have never known a good young golfer with such an immense work ethic, a player who wants success so badly.
“How many more Jake Storeys and Jack Hermestons and Matty Lambs might be out there who we don’t know about.
“Perhaps they are lost somewhere at a golf club out in the back of beyond who don’t ever put youngsters forward for selection at any level?
“It’s my job not to miss anybody who’s got the X Factor element, any youngster with the two magic ingredients of natural talent and burning determination. That is the main reason for starting this series.”
The inaugural tournament saw South Moor’s England schoolboy international Chris Handy win the main event with a one-under 71 and Lamb the Under-14 section with a 74.
A ten-year-old Cumbria girl, Kaitlin Whitehead from the Kendal club, scored a gross 34 to win an Under-12 tournament on Matfen’s nine-hole par three course.
For more details about the North of England Under-16 Futures Tour, contact Kendal McWade on 07770 810 130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.