A 12-year-old golfer – who hit her first ball as a three-year-old – is now preparing for a round of a lifetime with a European Tour star, after beating thousands of amateur golfers across England to win the Bridgestone Chase Your Dream Trophy.
Isabelle Badger, from Halesowen Golf Club, won the final of the competition, run by England Golf, at the pro-am of the Bridgestone Challenge at Luton Hoo, following a number of qualification stages.
She joined Spencer Burlingham from Essex and Martin Derrick from Sussex in the triumphant team, and they now go on to play in the pro-am of the Sky Sports British Masters at Walton Heath on 10 October.
The youngster was meant to be back in the classroom at Pedmore High School, Stourbridge, for the first day of the new term, but was given special dispensation to play in the final of the Chase Your Dream Trophy. After putting on an exhibition of chipping and putting, she now has a huge trophy to take back to the next school assembly.
The 13 handicapper, said: “It feels amazing! My own dream is to become a professional golfer one day. I have lots of heroes in golf, so I can’t wait to meet some of them at the British Masters.
“It was meant to be my first day back at school, so I can’t wait to tell my teachers and friends that I won!”
Martin Derrick, aged 59, from Dyke Golf Club, near Brighton, put his 17 shots to good use. He looked back at the 17th hole as a turning point after he birdied it and the team’s professional, Robin Sciot-Siegrist of France, eagled it.
“I did think that we would post a competitive score when that happened,” he said. “That was eight points from one hole and with Isabelle chipping and putting so beautifully, we were always going to have a chance. I just can’t believe we’ve won it. Never mind chasing your dreams – I couldn’t get a wink of sleep the night before the round, but it was all worth it in the end.”
Spencer Burlingham, aged 34, ranks the success as the best of his life, having only picked up a set of clubs eight years ago.
The three-handicapper from Saffron Walden Golf Club said: “I am still speechless. It just seemed to be our time. I wasn’t even going to enter the tournament, but saw an email about it a long time ago and put my name down. It has been a long journey ever since, but such an enjoyable one.
“There was a great dynamic in our team and little Isabelle was an inspiration. To show such a calm head and maturity at such a young age was brilliant to see.”
The Bridgestone Chase Your Dream Trophy, run in partnership with England Golf, was open to winners of 2017 club competitions and concluded at the pro-am of the Bridgestone Challenge at Luton Hoo, where the top nine men and female golfers overall converged to play in a mixed team format.
The trio can now look forward to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity playing with a household name professional at the Sky Sports British Masters at Walton Heath in October.
Now in its second year, the Chase Your Dream Trophy has continued to capture the imaginations of thousands of amateur golfers in clubs affiliated to England Golf, just as it did in its inaugural year 12 months ago.
Bridgestone’s Consumer Sales & Marketing Director, Farrell Dolan said: “Isabelle, Spencer and Martin should feel so proud of their achievement. They have prevailed over thousands of amateurs and their journey to this point has been a long one. They have had to overcome their own hurdles during a number of rounds no doubt, but to see them lifting the silverware at the end of it all was a great sight.
“We now wish them all the best at the British Masters at Walton Heath, where a round of golf with one of the stars of the European Tour now awaits.”
The Chase Your Dream Trophy is named after Bridgestone’s ‘Chase Your Dream No Matter What’ concept, which underpins its Worldwide Olympic partner status and aims to encourage people of all ages, abilities and passions to find the strength to chase their dreams and overcome the obstacles they face on life’s journey.