Lurgan lady Zoe Allen helping to create new generation of golfing stars
Lurgan-based U.S. Kids Top 50 Golf Coach, Zoe Allen, is reaching out to a new generation of golfing stars via the US Kids North of Ireland Summer Tour.
The tournaments, aimed at boys and girls aged 5-14, offer young golfers an opportunity to compete with their peers and qualify for European and World Championship even ts.
Zoe, a PGA teaching professional, has carved out a strong niche in junior coaching, particularly amongst pre-teens were the emphasis is on fun, fitness and basic skill development.
And the ability of the 29-year-old Lurgan lady was recognised recently when was invited to Pinehurst, North Carolina to be a Tournament Director at the US Kids World Championships.
Zoe first flew out to Virginia to the prestigious Michelle Holmes School of Golf, Chesapeake.
''It’s a great opportunity to see how Michelle organises her junior coaching programme and to attend PGA junior league team matches, US Kids tournaments within Virginia,'' she said.
''I’m also delighted that US Kids Golf have once again invited me back to Pinehurst as Tournament Director for the World Championships.
''It will be special this year as there are some players playing in the World Championships who have qualified through competing in the North of Ireland Local Tour.''
Peter Hanna, Head Professional at Lurgan Golf Club said: ''Zoe is already building herself a fine reputation in the coaching world especially with juniors.
''It’s great to see that she has gone to the States to continue to learn and we welcome her bringing that new found knowledge home to Lurgan.''
Her busy schedule sees her return to Lurgan in mid-August in time for the US Kids North of Ireland Summer Tour Championship at Spa Golf Club before heading off to be a Tournament Director at the US Kids Golf Venice Open in Italy.
“Initially I got involved with US Kids Golf via the coaching side of things and the player pathway the company created to help children learn key fundamentals of the game,” said Zoe.
“I was then introduced to the tournaments. If you are involved in coaching children it is nice to have events that are age specific and tee appropriate. It certainly helps to grow the game of golf.”
US Kids Golf is a leading golf company that aims to encourage participation and enjoyment in the sport at a young age. In January, Zoe was named as one of only five coaches from outside the USA to be recognised by US Kids Golf.
She has helped to introduce the first US Kids learning programmes to Ireland and established the UK and Ireland's first US Kids Local Tour which was played at six venues during the Spring.
The US Kids Summer tour, which began at Castlerock GC, comprises eight regular events.
There will be an Order of Merit for those playing in four or more tournaments and a special Local Tour Championship event offering double points as a finale.
The tour, which is attracting competitors from England, has already visited Castlerock, Ballycastle and Lurgan Golf Clubs with events also at Allen Park, Galgorm Castle, Bangor GC and Massereene GC.
Spa Golf Club in Ballynahinch will host The Tour Championship on August 12.
The Tour tournament at Lurgan saw the very first hole in one recorded by a competitor in the tour.
Conor Coleman, a Lurgan member, aced the 128 yard par three 17th on his way to winning his section via a play-off.
“US Kids only asked me in mid-April if I would run the Summer tour,” added Zoe.
“Initially my thinking was to do the Spring events, evaluate it and then go again next year but the numbers were so strong for those events, the demand was clearly there.
''In the opener at Ardglass we had 50 participants which is more than I ever thought would play and we had 76 compete in the Spring Tour Championship at Lurgan.”
“Junior golf in America is strictly stroke play and played to shorter courses to develop the mentality of scoring, as the kids hit it further the course is lengthened.
“This approach works, ask major champions Patrick Reid and Justin Thomas who are former US Kids champions.”