Lottie Woad has admitted she’s buzzing at the prospect of the country’s best juniors going head-to-head on her home course in a ground-breaking new tournament for boys and girls.
England Golf yesterday announced that it has scheduled its first ever mixed-gender championship for next season, allowing boys and girls to compete against each other for the same trophy.
That in itself was enough to grab the attention of the England girls’ squad player.
The fact the English Under 18 Championship will be staged on her home track at Farnham Golf Club in Surrey between 25-27 June next year just added to her excitement.
The 16-year-old has many targets to aim for in 2021 both as an individual and as part of the national squad.
Now she has an extra incentive to put in the hours over the winter to sharpen her game for the challenges ahead.
“I’m really excited about this event. It’s great that England Golf has come up with the new championship,” admitted the teenager who is nearing the end of her year as Farnham’s junior captain.
“I think all the girls will be really keen to compete against the boys and see what happens!
“This year at the English Amateur we were all on site together and it was a really good atmosphere even if we were still playing our separate events.
“I’ve never had the chance to play directly against the boys before and even with England our training sessions are at different times.
“The only time you would maybe play is in the odd practice round at an event like the European Young Masters when we are all away together, but that’s not the same as a championship.
“It’s definitely a good idea to integrate boys and girls like this in one event.
“It already happens on a couple of the professional events and the Berkhamsted Trophy was meant to be in this format in 2020 before the pandemic forced its cancellation.
“We still have our own championships which is right, but this is something new and exciting and I can’t wait.”
England Golf is committed to an innovative and inclusive strategy when it comes to the developing and growing the game.
Following on from moving the English Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championships to the same week at the same venue in 2020 and keeping the format for 2021, this new junior championship is a logical progression.
A total of 132 players will compete – 66 boys and 66 girls – over 72 holes of stroke play.
Farnham will provide a stunning, heathland backdrop to the championship. The eighth green (pictured above) highlights the mixture of tall pines, heather and narrow targets the players will encounter.
The renowned Surrey course has a fine reputation for developing junior golf with Woad full of praise for the way her club has championed her progress.
“I knew that my club was looking to host an England Golf event, but thought it would have to wait a few years,” added Woad who has won her club’s junior championship for the past four years.
“But I guess with a new event on the schedule it was able to step in and it will be a great way to mark the club’s 125th anniversary.
“The course is terrific – they are the best greens I play on anywhere all year and there is a nice mixture of heather on four or five of the holes on the front nine and plenty of trees.”
Woad expects her phone to be red-hot with friends asking to play practice rounds ahead of the championship – but she might put them off to avoid giving away any advantage!
“I don’t think I will feel any extra pressure just because it’s my own course,” added Woad, pictured above with England team-mate Rachel Gourley.
“When it comes to course management I should certainly know what to do although I suspect there will be some really tough pin positions to deal with.”
Photograph credit: Leaderboard/Farnham Golf Club