I recently had the pleasure of attending the Jack Newton Junior Golf (JNJG) 30th Anniversary Golf Day and Awards Night at Concord Golf Club.
I must say I was suitably impressed by the calibre of junior golfers in Australia!
I arrived and checked in amidst a buzz of excitement from the kids as they caught up with their golfing friends.
I was playing with Greg Watkinson from JNJG and two juniors, Blake, from Mollymook (who turned 12 six days ago and I happened to have met a couple of weeks back), and Harrison, from Sydney, who is 15 and has a +1 handicap.
I love chatting with young golfers about when they took up the game, what they love about it and how much fun it is.
There were moments of greatness from all of us (mostly Blake and Harrison) and Greg and I were very happy to have them on our team. They are articulate, mature and are not only great ambassadors for the game but are great role models for younger golfers.
Harrison led our team and we had a great golf chat as we walked the fairways. A storm had earlier passed us, with only a spattering of rain, but as we teed off on the 14th (Harrison and I had just hit our best drives of the day), another storm front blew in, forcing everyone to leave the course in a hurry as thunder struck, lightning flashed and the wind whipped up the leaves around us.
Just as we got under cover, the sky opened up and I was glad to be sheltering inside watching the storm swirl around. The rest of the golf was called off, so while we sat inside enjoying a drink and a golf chat, some of the girls used the extra time to hit the showers, spending hours getting ready.
I am a ten minute girl, but I admit it was nice to put on a dress for once. I do love my golf clothes, of course, as they mean I am golfing.
The girls looked beautiful, the boys very dapper and I was impressed with their performance as they ran the awards ceremony. From many different backgrounds, the children were spread throughout the room, sitting at tables with their playing partners, and it was a pleasure getting to know them.
While there were a few nerves on display, there were also articulate, impromptu speeches. And every single child who spoke repeated the same message, and not just to thank Jackie and Jack Newton.
Every child referred to the fun they have golfing.
Golf IS fun and these kids get it.
They thanked JNJG for creating the events and the format where they make golf friends, have a laugh, enjoy the competition and hone their skills. They couldn't wait to come back in 2017 and continue their relationship with golf.
One of my favourite moments was when Grace Kim, the Sub Junior of the Year, made the usual thank you speech (the Newtons, parents, coach etc.), but she also thanked Doug, an older gentleman, particularly for his mentorship. When she left the stage she wrapped him in a big bear hug!
Shelly Beach Golf Club was awarded Junior Club of the Year, and after hearing their Captain, Peter Swilinski, say, "Junior golf keeps clubs young!" I went and introduced myself. We had a good golf chat and Peter invited me to come to Shelly Beach to present to the GM and Director of Golf. He loves what Fairways is doing and wants to see how we can work together to get more children golfing.
It was a wonderful celebration of junior golf and we are lucky to have such wonderful ambassadors for the game – from Jack Newton down. Everyone in that room was a golf passionista, from parents who want the best for their kids, or the rest of us... mad golfers who are working towards getting more juniors on the fairways.