Golf

Top Lurgan golfers heading Stateside

Peter Cummins is Augusta-bound this summer
Tony McGee

LURGAN Golf Club must be out on its own as the only club in Ireland, or maybe further afield, with so many teenagers on Scholarships in the America.

Come September the 'Demesne Club' will have four budding young stars beginning a new life in the States.

Already, Niamh Ward is in Minnesota and heading west in August will be Niamh McSherry, Nathan McCann and Peter Cummins. McSherry will be off to Kansas State University,

McCann will begin a course in Business Studies at Colorado State University while Cummins will major in Sports Management at Rogers State University in Oklahoma.

It will be quite an exodus of teenage talent from the club and, while it will weaken Lurgan's attempts to make waves in local youth competitions, the best wishes of everyone in the club go to the young players.

“We are well aware of the fact that so many of our young talented players will be missing but this is an opportunity that they cannot turn down,” stresses head club professional Peter Hanna, the PGA captain-elect.

“The young golfers on scholarships in America have a great opportunity. They have got golf all the year round and able to practice during all the time they are in college there. Of course, there is no guarantee that all that will make any young player a golfing star or a top professional in the future but the opportunity must be taken when offered.

“I don't know a lot about the details involved but we are lucky to have four such talented young golfers who have gained the chance to learn the skills of the game and, of course, to further their education at the same time.

“There is no doubt but everyone at the club is delighted for the four of them and they are wished all the very best.”

Not many clubs would have a pool of young players like Lurgan or a quad, like Ward, McSherry, McCann and Cummins. to emerge at the same time but, obviously, it smacks of the youth coaching set-up at Lurgan. Peter Hanna is, of course, very involved in that but he hands a lot of the credit, too, to his assistant Zoe Allan.

“Zoe does a huge amount of work with the young boys and girls who want to learn the game. She makes the coaching sessions fun and the children love it,” says Hanna.

“The Centre of Excellence that we opened quite recently has been a help, too, and we give the youngsters plenty of opportunity to play in competitions. We have competitions here on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and that gives the players a taste for competitiveness.

“As well, the parents play a very big part in the development of the young. If a dad or mum is a keen golfer they will encourage their children, as well. Maybe take them out in the evening for a few holes. It all adds up to giving the youngsters a taste for the game. We are lucky to have many people like that in the club.”

Clubs do go through cycles when a group of talented young players emerge together and it seems that Lurgan is experiencing that, at present. Niamh Ward and Niamh McSherry have gained considerable success at schools' national level in golf, Peter Cummins has been an Irish Boys' international asnd Nathan McCann has made his mark, as well, in youth competitions.

Both McCann and Cummings have figured prominently in the Andrew Morris Golf Ulster Boys' Order of Merit.

One cannot forget, either, the successes of Annabel Wilson who, recently, won the French U18 Championship or the fact that Maeve Cummins, Peter's sister, won the Ulster Girls' Open Championship, last month, to add her name to that of Niamh Ward and Annabel Wilson on the trophy.

It could be that two more Lurgan players will be heading across the Atlantic with golf scholarships secured in the near future.

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