The future of golf will meet its historic past when the best young golfers on the planet descend on Scotland in May for the prestigious U.S. Kids Golf European Championships.
Teen golfers Calum Hill and Lara Frostwick will be among more than 400 youngsters from around 30 nations taking part on some of the world’s oldest courses in the country where the game was invented.
To celebrate the return of the tournament to Scotland and the contrast between the young golfers and the historic links, 13-year-old Hill got dressed in full 19th century golf gear complete with hickory equipment to play against 14-year-old Frostwick with the latest U.S. Kids Golf clothing and equipment.
Following its inaugural outing last year, the U.S. Kids Golf Championship has emerged as Europe’s premier junior tournament and the place where the stars of the future take their first steps in international competition.
The event will be held across five of Scotland’s historic golf courses in East Lothian and will see 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.
John Godwin, tournament director and former PGA junior leader of the year 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.”
The event is organised by U.S. Kids Golf, 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 the 2008 World Championships attracting more than 1,200 players from 34 countries.
Tiger and Padraig
John, who is director of player development at US 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 from 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.”
Frostwick, from Gullane, is a member at Gullane GC and is the current East Lothian handicap overall girls’ champion. She is looking forward to competing in the event again in May.
She said: “The competition was quite fierce last year, but it was really enjoyable. I loved the way the tournament was organised and the fact we got to play on different courses – and, of course, that I got to meet a lot of players from all over the world! It really helped build up my confidence, as well as improve my golf.”
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.
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.”
For more information or to enter the U.S. Kids Golf European Championships, visit www.uskidsgolf.com