GSGB Junior History
For about twenty years the GSGB has been funding junior golf. In the early 1990s, it started to sponsor Junior Masters (JM) competitions. The 14-18 year old age group was already well catered for with competitions, county events, etc., but there was a gap for the younger age group. To introduce them to competitive golf, GSGB began supporting six Junior Masters, which are spread geographically and chronologically. The Laddie Lucas Spoon at Prince’s (South Coast) and Kenilworth JM (Midlands) in the Easter holidays, Wessex JM at Bath (South West) in the summer half-term, Sandiway JM (North West) early in the summer holidays, Moortown JM (North) late in the summer holidays and Gogs JM (East Anglia) in the autumn half-term. Each event receives £600 sponsorship. The competitions are for boys and girls aged 13 or under on the competition date. They cater for all abilities from single figure handicappers (there was a 13 year-old boy playing off 1 at Prince’s in 2009) to those who have not yet acquired a true golf handicap. The latter are allocated a handicap based on age. The main prize, the Junior Master, is for the best scratch stableford score (boy or girl), but there are also other scratch prizes, plus handicap and age group prizes. For some golfers, the competitions have become a mini tour with the same names cropping up at most of the events.
The History of the Tournaments
GSGB sponsorship gradually grew. The Laddie Lucas Spoon was first. Sponsorship of this started in 1994; then came the Moortown JM in 2000, the Gogs and Wessex (Bath) JMs in 2001, Little Aston JM in 2002, and Sandiway JM in 2006. Events were also sponsored at Bamburgh and Royal St David’s, but these did not get established and fell by the wayside. Little Aston dropped out and was replaced in 2009 by Kenilworth, which got off to a flying start with over 50 entrants. Prince’s had already been running the Laddie Lucas Spoon since 1989 and GSGB adopted their format.
The Laddie Lucas Spoon
The Laddie Lucas Spoon has a unique history. Laddie Lucas was born in the old Prince’s Club House in 1915, his father being co-founder and first secretary of the club. At the age of 6(!!) he won an event for children aged 13 and under at the North Foreland club. The trophy was a little hickory shafted spoon (3 wood) made for him by the North Foreland club maker. At the age of 9, he got a hole in one with this club. Laddie donated the spoon to Prince’s, where it is the trophy in the event that the GSGB now sponsors. He went on to become reputedly the world’s best left-handed golfer, representing Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup competitions of 1936, 1947 and 1949 and captaining the team in 1949. During the 2nd World War, Laddie became a Spitfire ace. In one sortie his plane was damaged over the Channel by a Messerschmitt. Not fancying bailing out over the Channel, he decided to crash land and chose the Prince’s golf course, since he knew the terrain like the back of his hand. He crashed upside down and out of bounds and received a telegram from Henry Longhurst, the golf correspondent saying ‘Out of bounds again, Laddie’.
Records of Past Winners and their Further Progress in the World of Golf.
Jonathan Bell (Royal Blackheath) was the most prolific winner of GSGB JM events. He first came on the scene at Bath in 2001, when, aged 9, he was runner up in the scratch competition. He won the Laddie Lucas Spoon, the Little Aston and the Gogs JMs and was again runner up at Bath in 2003. In 2004 and 2005 he successfully defended his Laddie Lucas title. Jonathan was one of four talented youngsters in the winning English team in the Honda Junior Championship in Japan. In his debut in the Boys Home Internationals in 2008, Bell lost only one of his six matches. In 2009 he was in the English Under-18 Squad along with Adam Myers winner at the Gogs in 2004 and Scott Campbell winner at Little Aston also in 2004. In November 2009 Jonathan won the Faldo Series Championship in Rio de Janeiro.
Hannah Coles (Maxstoke Park) is the only girl to have had an outright scratch win in a JM event (Little Aston 2002). Now at University in Virginia, she claimed her first outright victory on the US women’s college circuit, in the 2008 Lady Herd Fall Classic in Huntington, West Virginia. Also in 2008 she tied for first place in the Charleston Southern Invitational, losing in an all British play-off to Olivia Jordan-Higgins of Royal Jersey.
Sam Connor (Sandiway) was runner up at Moortown in 2001 at the age of 9 and won at Little Aston in 2005. Connor, who has been handling a golf club since he could stand, joined Alsager at the age of five and was, reportedly, described as a bit of a “boy wonder” by Ernie Els when the two met at Wentworth a couple of years later. Connor now plays off plus one and, apparently, is being eyed by England.
Oliver Fisher (Chigwell) was the Laddie Lucas Spoon winner in 2001. He won the Lagonda Trophy at the age of 15 and went on to become the youngest player ever to contest a Walker Cup match. He missed out on an historic European Tour win when he lost in a play-off to Thomas Levet at the Andalucia Open in March 2008. The two were tied on 16 under before the play-off. After a year in the wilderness in 2009, Oliver is making a comeback in 2010 and has recorded 5 successive top ten finishes.
Tommy Fleetwood (Formby) only featured in one top two Junior Masters finishes (Moortown in 2002). In July 2008 he played as a member of the English team in the European Team Championships in Slovenia and represented GB and Ireland in the 2009 is Walker Cup. However, his greatest achievement so far has been to become the English Amateur Champion at Little Aston in July 2010. Tommy has now turned professional.
Jack Hiluta (Chelmsford) won the Gogs event in 2002. He went on in 2007 to Captain the GB and Ireland team in the Jacques Leglise Trophy. Jack is now on a sports scholarship at South Alabama University where he has had 3 top ten finishes which included a five-under-par 67 on the second day of the Sun Belt Championships.
Mikhail Ishaq (Bondhay) had back-to-back wins at Moortown in 2004 and 2005, was runner up at the Gogs in 2004 and won that event in 2005. In July 2008 he fired a stunning five under par opening round of 65 in the First Point USA Scottish Boys Under-16s championship at Glen GC in North Berwick. Mikhail had seven birdies in a breath-taking first round. He followed this by a second round 70 to take the title by 3 shots.
Chris Lloyd (Kendleshire) won the Moortown Junior Masters in 2002. In 2008, he won the Ernie Els World Junior Championship in South Africa and in November 2009 won the Abu Dhabi Junior Championship. In 2010, he joined the EGU under 18 squad.
Kiran Matharu (Cookridge Hall) won the girl’s scratch prize at Moortown in 2001. By 2004, at the age of 15 her handicap was down to +2. She went on, aged 18, to become the youngest ever winner of the English Ladies Amateur Open in 2006 and played in that year’s Curtis Cup. She joined the European Tour in 2007.
Chris Wood (Long Ashton) won the Wessex Junior Masters in 2001. In 2007, he won the Welsh and Russian amateur titles, but burst onto the major scene when he finished joint fifth in the 2008 Open at Birkdale, winning the Amateurs’ Silver Medal, after which he joined the professional ranks. In 2009, Chris tied for third place in the Open at Turnberry, missing out on a chance for the title by just one shot.