Golf prodigy scoops ladies’ title at just 11

ALICE Barlow was just four when she picked up a golf club for the first time and chipped a golf ball perfectly across the green outside the front of her Suffolk home.

Just seven years later, the prodigious talent has blown away the ladies’ field to lift the Mabel Oliver Cup – a competition open to adult players held at the Newton Green Golf Club, where Alice plays.

And now the 11-year-old from Great Cornard has her sites set on a professional career to emulate her hero Tiger Woods.

On the day of her victory she finished five strokes below her handicap with a score of 66.

Her mother, Jenny Barlow, a self-employed bookkeeper, said: “Alice is absolutely dedicated to the game and trained really hard throughout the winter. She would be at the club during the week and weekends to improve her game and it really is paying off now.”

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In fact the pay-offs are already boosting Alice’s piggy bank, even if it is costing her grandfather, Mick Barlow, more than he bargained for.

He said: “Until a few weeks ago I was giving Alice a pound for every par she scored. I’ve had to cut it back to 50 pence, but in the interests of my pocket I think in the near future I will only be paying out for birdies.”

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Alice said: “In February I set myself a target to get a handicap of 20 by Christmas – but Christmas seems to have come early.” Her rapid improvement, which shows no sign of slowing, should see her handicap tumble into the teens before the end of the summer.

Proud father Mark Barlow, who works at Guilford Europe, said he knew his daughter had something special that first day she hit the ball.

Mr Barlow, who plays off a handicap of 11, said: “There is a lot of travelling back and forth to the club for training and matches, but while she loves playing we’ll give her all the support she needs.”

The Mabel Oliver Cup is held annually in honour of an early lady stalwart who joined Newton Golf Club in 1912 – a time when few women ventured onto the links.

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