Jones' selection shows the county's golfing strength again

Ben Jones has been selected for the Walker Cup team - the latest example of a young Northamptonshire golfer making their way up the ranks

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 8:32 am
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 8:36 am
Ben Jones will make history when he becomes the first Northamptonshire golfer to play in the Walker Cup

Northamptonshire Golf Ltd believe the selection of amateur golfer Ben Jones for the 2021 Walker Cup team further emphasises how local talent is being given the opportunity to realise their potential.

Jones will make county history later this month when he becomes the first golfer from Northamptonshire to play for GB and Ireland in the 99-year history of the biennial match against the USA.

Despite playing for one of the smallest golf counties in the country, the 21-year-old’s call-up has not surprised anyone at the NGL as he joins a long list of top golfers to enjoy success whilst coming through the Northamptonshire ranks in recent years.

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Charley Hull. Picture by Tristan Jones

County and England team-mate Callum Farr was in the provisional Walker Cup squad, while professionals Gary Boyd and Ryan Evans were both reserves in their amateur days, before going on to play on the European Tour.

The ladies game has been even more successful with Charley Hull and Meghan MacLaren both representing their countries at amateur level, before winning a series of international events as professionals.

NGL Secretary John Pearson admitted: “We are all delighted for Ben that he has been picked for the Walker Cup – it is a great honour personally and for the county. He has all our best wishes for success in Florida.

“With just 24 clubs, Northamptonshire is one of the very smallest golfing counties compared with someone like Yorkshire, who have almost 200, but our golfers consistently punch above their weight.

Meghan MacLaren. Picture by Tristan Jones

“In recent years, the Men’s, Seniors and Juniors teams have all won their prestigious Anglian League titles - with the Seniors and Juniors both adding Midland crowns and reaching the National County Finals.

“Charley Hull and Meghan MacLaren are now firmly established in the ladies professional ranks following distinguished amateur careers.

“The results achieved by the NGL development programme are the envy of many bigger, wealthier counties and we must give credit to the work of the county coaches, the dedication of the players and the organisational skills of the board in planning and funding the programme on a very tight budget.

“We are sure their successes will be an inspiration to the county’s many talented and aspiring youngsters. It will also assure Northamptonshire’s golfers that their affiliation fees are being well spent.”

Jones agreed: “To have Callum in the provisional Walker Cup squad just shows the strength in depth in Northamptonshire of the younger lads, and especially in my years.

“We all bonded together, practised, trained and played with each other – and we had some good results. So it’s nice that everyone is playing such good golf.”

Wellingborough Golf Club are backing Progress Junior Golf, which is a nationwide initiative set up by Northamptonshire golf journalist Steve Jackson to promote the sport to the next generation of golfers.

After helping increase participation whilst working for Shires Junior Golf Tour, British Junior Golf Tour and the NGL Junior Order of Merit in recent years, Jackson is keen to give boys and girls the opportunity to play in more competitions.

To aid this process, the website www.progressjuniorgolf.com lists all events scheduled for juniors in 2021 across the UK and Ireland, including Junior Opens, Junior Tour events, plus county, regional and national tournaments.

With the organisation placing an emphasis on developing younger players, particularly in this county, Wellingborough have agreed to host a Progress Junior Golf Tour event on Sunday, May 30.

The competition, which is aimed at local golfers with handicaps of 10 or higher, will hand boys and girls the opportunity to play 18 or nine holes on one of the leading golf courses in the region, whilst trying to win several unique prizes.

Wellingborough Golf Club Junior Organiser Nigel Grimmitt said: “We are delighted to back Progress Junior Golf by hosting an event during the May half term break.

“It’s always important to give youngsters the chance to develop their skills on the golf course, and we are looking forward to seeing boys and girls from across the county play and enjoy Wellingborough.”