Michael’s back in the hunt for Lancashire

WHEN the opening shots of the Lancashire county golf season unfold next month, no-one will be more relieved than Michael Hunt.

The experienced Red Rose county player had to write off the whole of last season after a fall at home left him with a shattered shoulder.

There were times during the long rehabilitation when Hunt, who has 76 LancaMHunt1.jpgshire caps to his name, feared his top-level amateur golfing career may be over.

But his desire and pride in representing his county allied to a love of the game means the 38-year-old’s name once again appears in the Lancashire ranks, this time for the traditional curtain-raiser to the new season.

The annual fixture between the Red Rose county and a team from the Southport and District Golf Association is on April 2 at Formby Golf Club.

Hunt (pictured), a Pleasington member and lives in Burnley, is delighted to be back – b
ut is taking nothing for granted about whether he will be picked to chase down his dream of reaching the century of county appearances.

“Players have come in while I have been out and done well,” he said, “so I am under no illusions that I have got a fight on my hands to win back my place.

“But I love playing for Lancashire – to think of how many clubs there are, how many good players there are and to think I am one of the 12 who pulls on that county shirt is a source of real pride for me.

“It would be great if myself and John Carroll, who also has 76 caps, could go
on and reach 100 together. But I know I have got to prove myself worth a place all over again as early in the season as possible and hopefully they will find a slot for me.”

Hunt was heading out for a friendly game of golf with former Lancashire teammate Tommy Fleetwood, the two-time winner on the European Tour, when he fell down the stairs, thinking at first that he had merely dislocated his shoulder.

But, in fact, he had smashed the inside of his shoulder socket as well as dama
ging ligaments – and found himself undergoing a five-hour operation to put things right.

“It is a bit like a pig in a blanket now,” he says, “as the surgeon Dr  Marynissen, had to wrap muscle round the joints to make sure they would work smoothly in the future. I couldn’t do anything at all for the first six to eight weeks and it was very painful, but the surgeon and the team have done a great job. I have stuck to the physio plan and done the work that was needed – and it has paid off. I am really looking forward to playing again at Formby.”

He admitted he had to be patient while the healing process took its time.

“I decided there was no point rushing things and not coming back 100 per cent right,” added Hunt. “To have perhaps gained the odd game of golf but risked longer term damage did not seem worth it to me.

“There was a time when I was taking umpteen morphine tablets a day and I could not even lift a coffee cup to my lips – but I am not one for giving up. I would always have found a way to get the golf ball round – even if it meant playing one-handed or as a leftie!”

Hunt – a landscape gardener and tree surgeon – is grateful to Pleasington for providing him with work during the rehabilitation process which kept him off the golf course and unable to carry on his business.

He also enjoyed time with son Freddie, who at the age of six is already showing his dad’s love of golf, as he started to combine time in the gym with a gradual rebuilding of his golfing skills with the help of Damien Taylor, who has pupils who play on the professional tours, and Steve Hamer, the new professional at Pleasington.

“I’ve had to work on getting the muscle in the arm back as well as building up to making a full swing again,” added Hunt. “I suppose there were times, when I couldn’t even lift the TV remote, that you wonder  whether you are going to make it back – but to be honest, that was not an option for me!”

Lancashire captain Paul Williams   said: “Michael has strong characteristics which came through during his recovery time. He always delivers positive energy to the team and it is great to see him back playing and playing well.”

 

 

 

TEAMS

 

REST OF LANCASHIRE: Henry Tomlinson (Royal Lytham), John Carroll (Huyton and Prescot), Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park), Michael Hunt (Pleasington), Thomas Winn (Morecambe), Reece Cranfield (Wigan), Luke Kelly (Ashton Under Lyne), Sean Doherty (Rossendale), Ciaran Doherty (Bury), Joe Brice (Manchester), Paul McFerran (Wa
rrington), Curtis Clarkin (Nelson)

 

SDGA: Richie Blundell (Hillside), Sean Towndrow (S&A), Chris Reid (Southport Old Links), Andrew Molloy (Hillside), Anthony Stirling (Formby), Mark Duncalf (Formby), Geoff Harris (Formby), Jack Shelley (Formby), Bryan Hughes (Hesketh), Greg Holmes (Royal Birkdale), Greg McIlroy (S&A), Joe Banks (West Lancashire)

 

FIXTURES: April 8 Rest of Lancashire v Bolton Golf Association (West Houghton);
April 11-13 Four Counties Junior Tournament (Shifnal GC); April 16 Lancashire Select v Cumbria
Select  (Furness); May 10 Collinge Trophy (Wilpshire); May 11 Lancashire Seniors v
Shropshire and Herefordshire Seniors (Whitefield).

 

 

 

Nic’s ready to take England Golf chair

NIC Coward will become the first independent Chair of England Golf after his appointment is ratified at the annual general meeting on April 12. He was selected after a rigorous appointment process which considered a number of high-calibre candidates for the role.

For the past year Nic (pictured)has been the independent chairman of the England Golf Panick.jpgrtnership, whose key roles are being taken on by England Golf.

In a 20-year career at the top levels of British sport, Nic has been the general secretary of the Premier League, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, joint chief executive of the Football Association and a director of Wembley Stadium.

He has also been a non-executive director of the FA, was treasurer of the CCPR (now the Sport and Recreation Alliance) and first chair of the global Sports Rights Owners Coalition. He now consults to a number of sports and entertainment businesses in the UK and around the world, as well as non-executive roles away from sport.

Nic said: “Golf in England has a huge amount to be proud of, from Olympic gold to huge impact in communities across the country. There is great work going on at every level of the game. What is really exciting is the opportunity to do even more, to get more people playing, more often.”

Pink, England Golf chief executive Nick Pink said: “Nic has been working closely with us already and has a good understanding of what we do as an organisation. I believe his background and strong networks will significantly help England Golf, and I look forward to working with Nic in the future.”

England Golf is the governing body for amateur golf in England and was formed in 2012 by a merger of the English Golf Union and the English Women’s Golf Association.

 

England Golf take on partnership role

THE key roles of the England Golf Partnership, which for 12 years has brought together England Golf and the Professional Golfers’ Association, will be taken on by England Golf.

The roles were to pull together the sport’s Whole Sport Plan and receive golf’s National Lottery grant under Sport England’s previous strategy.

Last month, Sport England announced an £8.48m award to golf, over four years, to support talented players and encourage regular golfers to continue playing. The PGA has withdrawn from EGP, allowing England Golf to become the lead funding body, working with Sport England to support its new strategy for 2017-21.

England Golf and the PGA have, however, made the commitment to continue to work closely together, along with the Golf Foundation, in the best interests of golf in England.

PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said: “Following receipt of the news of Sport England’s funding award to golf, amicable discussion took place between England Golf and The PGA. In conclusion it was felt that the best outcome for golf in England could be achieved by the PGA stepping out of the EGP, allowing England Golf to be the lead funding body.

“The PGA is, of course, totally committed to working with England Golf and the Golf Foundation to support the growth and development of the game at all levels.

England Golf chief executive Nick Pink commented: “England Golf would like to thank the PGA for their great commitment to golf in England, and I look forward to working with them just as closely to deliver on our plans for the game.

“England Golf will work hard to ensure the Sport England award is invested well into golf in England and looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial working relationship with the PGA.”

Lancashire warm up for busy county season

LANCASHIRE have selectedPaul Williams.jpg a team combining youth and experience for the curtain-raiser to the county golf season.

The annual fixture between the Red Rose county and a team from the Southport and District GA on April 2 at Formby traditionally marks the start of the season.

Pleasington’s Michael Hunt returns to action in the Rest of Lancashire ranks, missing the whole of last season after breaking his shoulder in an accident at home.

He shares top billing as the most capped player with 76 appearances alongside John Carroll, from Huyton and Prescot.

In contrast, Ashton under Lyne’s Luke Kelly is at the very beginning of his county career. The 18-year-old has come through the ranks with the Lancashire youth set-up and has represented England at under-16 level. He made the breakthrough into the senior team last year, making five appearances.

The Southport team includes a number of players with county and international experience, allowing Lancashire County Captain Paul Williams (pictured) the chance to run the rule over potential picks for the start of the full county programme.

The host team includes Sean Towndrow, from Southport and Ainsdale. The 25-year-old missed much of last season after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, but has recently returned from South Africa where he represented England in four tournaments.

REST OF LANCS: Henry Tomlinson (Royal Lytham), John Carroll (Huyton and Prescot), Ian Kenwright (Haydock Park), Michael Hunt (Pleasington), Thomas Winn (Morecambe), Reece Cranfield (Wigan), Luke Kelly (Ashton Under Lyne), Sean Doherty (Rossendale), Ciaran Doherty (Bury), Joe Brice (Manchester), Paul McFerran (Warrington), Curtis Clarkin (Nelson)

SDGA: Richie Blundell (Hillside), Sean Towndrow (S&A), Chris Reid (Southport Old Links), Andrew Molloy (Hillside), Anthony Stirling (Formby), Mark Duncalf (Formby), Geoff Harris (Formby), Jack Shelley (Formby), Bryan Hughes (Hesketh), Greg Holmes (Royal Birkdale), Greg McIlroy (S&A), Joe Banks (West Lancashire)

OTHER FIXTURES: April 8 Rest of Lancs v Bolton GA (Westhoughton); April 11-13 Four Counties Junior Tournament (Shifnal); April 16 Cumbria Select v Lancs Select  (Furness); May 10 Collinge Trophy (Wilpshire); May 11 Lancs Seniors v Shropshire and Herefordshire Seniors (Whitefield GC).

 

 

 

Double delight for Cheshire’s Bronte Law

CHESHIRE’S Bronte Law did the double at last night’s 2017 England Golf Awards where
she was handed two honours.

The 22-year-old from Bramhall Golf Club was named as the female Player of the Year and, as a member of the England side which won the 2016 European women’s team championship, she shared the Team of the Year Award.

The England Golf Awards attracted over 400 guests to a glittering ceremony at Lord’s and shone the spotlight on great moments and achievement at all levels of English golf.Lawx.jpg

Bronte (pictured) was recognised alongside Olympic champion Justin Rose, Masters champion Danny Willett and Solheim Cup player Charley Hull, as well as other players and heroes from the grass roots game.

The audience heard how, in Bronte’s final season of amateur golf she won the European amateur championship, making up a seven shot deficit with a closing 66, and scored the winning point for England in the European women’s team championship.  Bronte  an historic role in GB&I’s Curtis Cup victory, winning all five of her games; was ranked world number two and  the top women’s US college player

She is now a professional in the USA and sent a video message telling guests: “England Golf have given me so much over the years and I’m really glad we had such a successful year and I could pay back and show my gratitude for everything.”

Bronte spoke particularly of the England win in the European team championship and of the coach, Steve Robinson, and her fellow squad players: Emma Allen (Meon Valley), Alice Hewson (Berkhamsted), Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough), Lizzie Prior (Burhill) and Olivia Winning (Rotherham), with captain Anne Baines.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be coached by Steve Robinson since I was 14 and winning the gold medal with Steve as coach was something very special for me and I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life. I want to thank all my team members in that squad for such an amazing experience.”

Lancashire England Golf’s county of the year

LANCASHIRE’S fantastic support for its clubs and players has won the England Golf County of the Year Award. The county was honoured at last night’s 2017 England GolfAwards at Lord’s and will receive £6000 worth of bespoke research from award sponsors Sports Marketing Surveys Inc.  Warwickshire were runners-up.

The awards shone the spotlight on great moments and achievement at all levels of English golf and Lancashire was recognised alongside Olympic champion Justin Rose, Masters champion Danny Willett and Sol
heim Cup player Charley Hull, as well as other players and heroes from the grass roots game.

The audience of more than 400 guests from across the golf industry heard how the Lancashire county golf organisations work in partnership to grow the game.

They put the needs of players and the 158 clubs and facilities at the heart of everything they do and have been rewarded with a 4.3 per cent increase in membership, with particular growth among men and girls.

“This is a huge pat on the back for everyone who has contributed to the initiatives and it validates the work we are doing,” said Phil Harvey, secretary of both the Lancashire Golf Union and the county development group pictured left with the winning team. “It’s great for clubs, for county development officers, for volunteers, for everyone involved.”

He added: “The prize will help us to do more good work and it ties in superbly with what we want to do.”

The county – one of the biggest in England – kick-started its success three years ago with the launch of the Lancashire Golf Union’s development plan. This was followed by the creation of a county development group, with England Golf officers working alongside the union, the ladies’ association and other partners.

The emphasis has been on motivating clubs to be more business-like and to support them with access to planning advice and resources; to encourage new ideas and innovation; and great communications.

Harvey added: “What pleases me most is that the clubs feel much closer to the county, they feel that the county is there for them, to support them. Everyone feels that we are all pulling together to help each other.”

His satisfaction at winning the award was echoed by Debbie Barber, one of England Golf’s county development officers, who said: “Winning the coveted title of best county means the world to us all and what has been achieved the length and breadth of Lancashire has given us a real buzz.”

 

Corrigan at the double in Manchester Alliance

CHILLI Dip coach Craig Corrigan celebrated double success in the Manchester Alliance at Vale Royal Abbey. He racked up 42 points to win the pro section with 42 points, holding off Ben Stanier (Wilmslow) and Phil Archer (Birchwood) by one.

And he claimed the pro-am prize with 46 points with Wigan partner Paul Cooney.  Ollie Smith (Ashton-on-Mersey) was top assistant pro with 39 points.

Four pairs totted up 41 points in the amateur section,  Mark Gauci (Chorlton) and John Aikenhead (Ashton-on-Mersey) winning on countback from Danny Fox and Steve Finan (Stamford), Paul Traynor and Brian Thomas (Stamford) and Mike Wallace and Brian Carroll (Bolton Old Links)