Kent’s Steph Marshall played six below her handicap at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire to become England’s champion woman medal player.
The five-handicapper scored net 67 to win the women’s Grand Medal Final, finishing two shots clear of the youngest competitor, 12-year-old Hannah Golding from Staffordshire. Third place went to Yorkshire’s Karen Jobling, a four-handicapper who returned net 70.
The Final was played as part of England Golf’s first Golf Week, which celebrates the grassroots game with a five-day festival of team and handicap events. Scoring was good on a day when the forecast heavy rain stayed away for much of the competition, before catching the later starters.
“I am over the moon,” said Steph (image © Leaderboard Photography) from Birchwood Park. She played the Red course in 72, one-under par gross, having never seen it before. “I didn’t have a practice round so I got myself a course book and took it one step at a time.”
It proved a very successful approach as she notched up four birdies, two of them in the last three holes. “I felt I positioned the ball well with my driving and I put it close on the greens, although I had to hole a couple of downhill left-to-right putts. But they all went in, everything was going well.”
Steph, 20, has been playing golf for seven years after first seeing the sport on television. She’s been on good form this season since making a small swing adjustment, after receiving a chance tip. “I’ve been hitting the ball straight ever since,” she said.
Her target is to keep reducing her handicap so that she can play on the LET Access Series.
Meanwhile Hannah Golding has already passed her first target for this season. She set herself the goal of reducing her handicap from 21 to 15 and had achieved that by the time she teed up in the final. Now, after returning net 69 today, another cut is on the way.
“It was really fun, I like playing different courses,” she said, after completing her round. “I just tried to keep my focus and tried to make pars.” She succeeded, making nine pars in her round.
There was more good scoring from Yorkshire’s Karen Jobling, who was round in one-over gross 74 for net 70. “I’m ecstatic,” she said. “I think everyone was expecting to wake up to rain and when we didn’t we felt very lucky and that was relaxing.
“I didn’t start very well, my drive clipped a tree, but I managed to make a par and decided that was the sign to get on with it! I managed to stay out of the bunkers and hit some good shots.”
Karen is the Richmond ladies’ club champion and this season has reached the final of the Yorkshire vets and of the second flight of the Northern vets. She also got through to the matchplay at the English senior women’s championship.
The Grand Medal Final was contested by the cream of England’s club medal players. Each finalist had returned the four best medal scores at her club during 2014 and had won through a regional final to take her place at Frilford.
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