England Golf’s pathway puts players on road to GB&I success

Performance Director Nigel Edwards has encouraged the 18 golfers on track from the England Golf player pathway to GB&I squads for 2021 to seize a fantastic opportunity and do themselves and their families proud.

When the initial squads were announced yesterday for the upcoming Walker Cup, Curtis Cup and Vagliano Trophy campaigns, players from the England Golf set-up were very much to the fore.

Ten players with experience of regional, boys’ or men’s squads have made captain Stuart Wilson’s provisional selection for the Walker Cup at Seminole, Florida next May.

Another eight from the girls’ or women’s pathway have earned the nod from captain Elaine Ratcliffe for the Vagliano Trophy encounter against Continental Europe at Lausanne, Switzerland in June.

Ratcliffe and her squad will then contest the Curtis Cup match against the USA at Conwy, Wales in August.

The fact that England supplies 18 of the 32 players selected across both squads is a remarkable achievement for not only the golfers involved, but also for the coaches and volunteers on the England Golf talent pathway who helped elevate the players’ games to such levels.

Edwards is thrilled for the players and hugely appreciative of the efforts from those in the England Golf performance set-up who helped develop and nurture so many top talents.

“I’d like to offer my congratulations to the players who have earned their selection for this initial squad,” admitted Edwards, a Walker Cup winner himself as both GB&I player and captain.

“This a proud moment for them, their families and also England Golf. However, the real challenge starts now to get into the final team and then be a part of a winning side.

“An awful lot of hard work has gone on down the years primarily from the players themselves, but also those supporting them, to allow them to follow their dreams.

“At England Golf we work with our regional and national squad players on everything to do with their game from a technical, mental and physical perspective.

“Our work is based on five key pillars of performance – world-class holing out, outstanding short game, precise wedge play, ball-flight control and strategy/tactical awareness.

“We believe this provides a strong foundation upon which to build a golf game robust enough to take players to the top of the amateur game – and beyond into the professional ranks.

“It is hugely satisfying when you see so many players who have been involved with our pathway for the best part of a decade reach these levels.

“I was proud to play in and captain Walker Cup teams and know just how tough it is to reach that level.

“It is a huge honour to represent GB&I.

“I would also say that both Stuart and Elaine have made it clear that there is still scope for others who did not make these squads to impress in the months ahead and gain selection for the teams.”

For the men, Wiltshire’s Jake Bolton (pictured above), Ben Jones and Callum Farr from Northamptonshire, Yorkshire trio Alex Fitzpatrick, Barclay Brown and Ben Schmidt, Northumberland’s Matty Lamb, Gloucestershire’s Joe Long, Surrey’s Angus Flanagan and US-based Joe Pagdin have made the squad.

The women’s squad selection includes Gloucestershire’s Caley McGinty, Surrey’s Annabell Fuller and Emily Toy from Cornwall (see image below).

Worcestershire and Herefordshire’s Emily Price, Mimi Rhodes from Somerset, Essex’s Lily May Humphreys, Bel Wardle from Cheshire and Yorkshire’s Charlotte Heath have also caught the eye.

Edwards continued: “Despite a disrupted year, 2020 has been a good one for the England Golf players.

“The year started well with Charlotte Heath and Ben Schmidt winning in Australia.

“Annabell Fuller reached the final of the Women’s Amateur Championship at West Lancashire Golf Club on the same week we had an all-England final in the men’s championship at Royal Birkdale with Joe Long pipping England team-mate Joe Harvey to the title.

“A number of our women’s squad enjoyed great success playing in the Rose Ladies Series in the early part of the summer and next week Lily May Humphreys (main image) and Emily Toy will play in the US Women’s Open at the Champions Club in Houston, Texas.

“There is no doubt that playing in these international team events is a huge challenge and opportunity for the golfers.

“The list of players who have used Walker or Curtis Cups as springboards to amazing careers is endless.

“For recent proof you just need to look at this year’s USPGA champion, Collin Morikawa, who played in the Walker Cup as recently as 2017.

“All I’d say to the players now is to make the most of a fabulous opportunity and put all that they have learned over the years to good use.”

Photography: Leaderboard