Garnett on Golf: Winter programme complete for Suffolk’s super-talented youngsters

Conal Downing (left) with the Sam Jaggard Trophy and Louis Martin of Haverhill with the Nick Reiss M

Conal Downing (left) with the Sam Jaggard Trophy and Louis Martin of Haverhill with the Nick Reiss Memorial Trophy. Photograph: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Keith Preston and Lawrence Dodd have completed their Suffolk junior winter coaching programme for the most talented teenagers Suffolk have produced for many years.

Skills winners Max Weaver (Bury St Edmunds) and Taylor Crisp (Seckford). Photograph: CONTRIBUTED

Skills winners Max Weaver (Bury St Edmunds) and Taylor Crisp (Seckford). Photograph: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

There were skills tests at the final session at Aldeburgh won by Taylor Crisp (Seckford) in the top group and Max Weaver (Bury St Edmunds) in the younger group.

It was also the occasion of the annual awards. Louis Martin (Haverhill) won the Nick Reiss Memorial Trophy for a boy of any age. The Sam Jaggard Trophy went to Suffolk junior champion Conal Downing (Rookery Park).

These trophies are awarded by the Suffolk Golf Union junior committee to boys who have demonstrated a high standard of behaviour, sportsmanship and leadership during the previous year as well as having performed well during the season.

Martin won the President’s Mashie, the Suffolk Matchplay title at Diss, beating established Suffolk players Josh Driver, Chris Bartrum (both county first team players on their home course), Jamie Jones (Hintlesham) and Luke Thompson (Rookery Park) in the final.

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Downing, having recovered from a broken arm sustained in a bicycle accident, won the junior stroke play title at Felixstowe thanks to a birdie at the tough 17th hole in his second round which clinched victory over Harvey Watts (Newton Green).

In the match play at Diss Downing took eventual finalist Thompson to the second extra hole. He also surprised Suffolk county captain Jack Cardy in a Stenson Shield match.

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Last season another Suffolk junior, Alfie Halil (Flempton), became Suffolk Open champion while George Fricker (Ufford Park) became an England schoolboy international.

With Watts, winner of the Suffolk junior match play for the second successive year and Ipswich junior captain Habebul Islam waving the flag for Suffolk in national events, Suffolk have plenty of options.

Last season’s under-18 team manager Patrick Spraggs has found employment in the United States. Suffolk seek a replacement.

With Suffolk men’s first and second teams struggling last year, juniors could give them a boost in the coming months.

- Jamie Abbott (Ipswich) is taking a month away from tournament golf as he prepares for two Challenge Tour events in April.

He has been invited to play in the Turkish Airlines Challenge on the Gloria course at Belek between April 26 and 29. Ryan Evans, a former Northamptonshire county player in the Anglian League, was last year’s winner.

Then Abbott looks forward to the Open de Portugal at Morgado between May 10 and 13.

Last year Abbott finished joint 15th at Morgado with rounds of 70 71 71 and 69.

Abbott will play for a team of professionals against Jack Cardy’s Suffolk county team at Hintlesham on Sunday March 25. It will be a foursomes match starting at 1pm.

The professional team is: Jamie Abbott (Ipswich), Joe Cardy (Hintlesham), Lawrence Dodd (Culford Academy), Sam Forgan (Stowmarket), Alex Holmes (Great Yarmouth and Caister), Peter Latimer (Felixstowe Ferry), Keith Preston (Aldeburgh), Chris Smith (Fynn Valley), Chris Soanes (Rookery Park) and Phil Westley (Hintlesham).

- The Golf Foundation has appointed Suffolk Ladies’ captain Vanessa Bell as its first Head of Fundraising to ensure the charity can increase its support of young people through golf.

She is from a keen golfing family in Suffolk. She played professional tour golf in the US and Europe after attending a golf scholarship at the University of Alabama and gaining a BSc in Sport and Fitness Management. Now playing off a one handicap, Vanessa led her county team to third place in the English County Finals at Felixstowe Ferry last year.

Her charity fundraising activity has included work at Ipswich School, the University of East Anglia, Lapwing Suffolk and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. Vanessa was born and bred in Ipswich and is a long-time member of Ipswich Golf Club.

The Foundation already works closely with some of the game’s key stakeholders but the national child-centred charity is now seeking further support for its growing junior programmes from potential major sponsors, golf club supporters and individual club golfers.

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