Juniors in focus at Bridgestone Challenge

Luke Johnson Bridgestone clinic

Former England player Luke Johnson shot sub-par 70 in the first round of the Bridgestone Challenge at Luton Hoo – and then walked straight on to the range to take a junior clinic.

Johnson spent around an hour with pupils from The Oratory School, near Reading, and joked: “These boys are a lot more intelligent than me so I would definitely say get your grades first!”

If they apply themselves to their lessons as well as they did to their golf clinic they’ll all be A* pupils. Their attention was fully focussed on Johnson’s advice and they were quick to respond to his challenges and tips.

Johnson, 25, is an enthusiastic supporter of junior golf and is involved in charity events at his club, King’s Lynn in Norfolk. He’s keen to give back in return for his own experiences coming through the England squad system and he says: “This is our game, if the youngsters aren’t coming through we are not going to grow the game as much as we want to.”

The schoolboys, aged 14 and 15, spent a day at the Bridgestone Challenge,
which is the first PGA European Challenge Tour to use a modified stableford scoring system with the emphasis on making birdies and eagles.

They watched play and visited Bridgestone’s Olympic Games Dome to sample its range of interactive fun, which promises to be a huge hit with families at the weekend. Then, they moved to the range to meet up with Johnson.

The Oratory is a boys’ boarding school with a nine-hole course on its campus, weekly lessons from a visiting PGA professional and a pupil membership at Reading Golf Club.

The boys who visited the Bridgestone Challenge included recreational golfers like Shawn Lutta, 14, who wanted to find out more about the sport and watch the professionals tackle the course; and Masa Moriyama, also 14, who was a big fan of the Dome.

Harry Page, 15, is a serious player, having got down to seven handicap since taking up golf 18 months ago and is the Reading junior champion. He became interested after watching online videos, had his first go with some old clubs in his garage and gleans most of his instruction from YouTube. However, today’s experience was described as “Cool!”

Another 14-year-old, scratch golfer Ivan Vishnyakov, was in his element, explaining "I just love going to the driving range."

Click here for more information on the Bridgestone Challenge, which continues until Sunday. Entry is free and spectators can register to receive vouchers to the value of £200, including a free round of golf at Luton Hoo Golf Club. Either click here to register in advance or register at the event. 

Captions: Luke Johnson makes a point at his junior clinic (top); pictured with young golfers from The Oratory School (below). Images copyright Leaderboard Photography.