The cream of the world’s best young golfers will be heading to Scotland in May to take part in the prestigious U.S. Kids Golf European Championships.
More than 400 players from some 30 nations will be competing in the event which has emerged as Europe’s premier junior tournament to showcase the next generation of golfing stars.
The event – to be held across five of Scotland’s historic golf courses in East Lothian in May – sees boys and girls split into different gender and age categories in order to compete for the title of U.S. Kids Golf European champion.
The top finishers in each category will then compete in the Van Horn Cup – a showpiece event, modelled on the Ryder Cup, where the best European players are pitted against the top non-Europe golfers. The top five finishers in each age and gender group also automatically receive an invitation to the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships at Pinehurst Golf Club, North Carolina, in August.
Entries are still being accepted to the tournament, which offers junior players the dream chance to play at the ‘home of golf’ in Scotland as well as on some of world’s oldest courses.
The tournament is organised by the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation who are committed to growing the game among children and families across the globe.
Tournament Director and former PGA Junior Leader of the year John Godwin said he believes the talent on display will surprise even the most seasoned golf pros.
He said: “The skill of the players really has to be seen to be believed. Despite their age, these players demonstrate great poise, balance and professionalism – for example you very rarely see a fluff or mishit shot.
“Anyone who has not watched the elite of today’s junior golfers in action is in for a treat. If we get good conditions, I’m confident we will see a host of superb sub-par rounds.”
John, who is Director of Player Development at U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, added: “We are committed to providing opportunities for young players to play and develop golf. Many of the best young players from around the world – including many for the US – will be competing in May. I am sure that many of these will be go on to become at very least competent golfers, but possibly even the Tiger’s and Padraig’s of tomorrow.”
Hotly-tipped youngster Matthias Schwab, from Austria, won the boys 13s event last year and will be aiming to add the 14s title at the 2009 Championships.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to coming back to Scotland to compete in the European Championships. The courses are very tough and the standard of competition is very high, so I will need to play my best golf to win the title this year.
“It is a great tournament and a good challenge for young players, as the conditions are very different to other events that are held in Europe and America.”
The 2009 European Championships will be played between May 26-28, 2009 on five courses in East Lothian – Gullane No. 2, Gullane No. 3, Craigielaw Golf Club, Kilspindie Golf Club and Luffness New Golf Club. The Van Horn Cup is played on May 29 at Gullane No. 1.
The courses are modified for each age group in order to provide the same level challenge – so holes are progressively shorter as the age groups get younger. It ultimately allows the players to reach the greens in the same number of strokes as the top pros on the PGA tour.
Tournament Co-ordinator Alasdair Good, Head Professional at Gullane GC, said he was delighted that Scotland was playing host to the event again. “We’ll be delighted to welcome visitors to this year’s tournament. I’ll guarantee no one will be disappointed at the golf they will see.”
He said: “Interest in golf in Scotland is on a high just now. The Scottish Government, through its clubgolf programme, is aiming to continue its commitment to introduce golf to all nine-year-olds and we’ve just seen the Scottish amateur team win the Eisenhower Cup in Australia.
“The U.S. Kids Golf European Championship will continue to showcase both golf in Scotland and the emerging talent in the game.
U.S. Kids Golf is the world’s largest producer of junior golf equipment for ages 14 and under. It has pioneered the development of golf clubs for young people, eliminating the problem of kids using heavier, cut-down adult clubs which often hurts developing swings and discourages budding players.
The U.S. Kids Golf Foundation was launched in 2001 to provide opportunities for kids to play and learn the game through local tours and tournaments. Since holding its first tournament in 2000, U.S. Kids Golf Foundation now runs some 400 events each year with 2008 World Championships attracting more than 1,200 players from 34 countries.
Dewey Crim, Chairman of the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation, said competition, at any level, makes golf more fun and encourages young players to improve their skills and advance in the game.
He added: “The U.S. Kids Golf World Championship Qualifiers were created to provide an opportunity for kids to showcase their skills and progress in age appropriate competition. They are a part of U.S. Kids Golf’s overall mission to help kids have fun learning the game of golf at an early age and to encourage family interaction that builds lasting memories.”
Malcolm Roughead OBE, Director of Visitor Engagement at VisitScotland, added: “We are delighted to welcome U.S. Kids Golf Championships to the Home of Golf. 2009 is a very exciting year for Scottish golf with the return of the Open Championship to Turnberry this year in July and with the country celebrating the year of Homecoming Scotland.
“Homecoming Scotland is an events programme celebrating Scotland’s remarkable contributions to the world on the themes of Burns, Golf, Whisky, Ancestry, Great Scottish Minds and Innovations. We believe that The Home of Golf will provide not just a great welcome but also enormous inspiration to these future golf talents.”
The tournament is also supported by East Lothian Council, and is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the local area.
Councillor Paul McLennan, East Lothian Council’s economic development spokesman said: “We are delighted to welcome back to East Lothian the U.S. Kids Golf’s European Championship. We hope that the county with its great golfing tradition and historic courses will become the natural destination for the tournament and all those who take part in it.
“We hope that all of the participants have a great tournament and manage to take a break from the golf to explore East Lothian’s many other attractions.”
For more information or to enter the U.S. Kids Golf European Championships, visit www.uskidsgolf.com