'Zim needs more young golfers'

HARARE - Zimbabwe needs more children to play golf if the country is to unearth another golfer in the mould of Nick Price (pictured), a top sport personality has said.

Price, who is now playing on the senior circuit on the PGA Tour, won three golf majors — the PGA Championship (1993 and 94) and the British Open (1994) — and was the last Zimbabwean to take the golf world by storm.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Manicaland Junior Golf Championship at Hillside Golf Club, Zimbabwe Junior Golf Association (ZJGA) coach, Roger Baylis, said currently there is a small pool of young golfers which makes it hard for the country to be a dominant force on the global stage.

“We have less than 100 children who are playing golf countrywide but look at India; it has around 2,5 million children playing cricket and that’s why they are so dominant,” Baylis said.

During the three-day tournament open only to players in the Under-19 category, there were at least two golfers aged eight and six something which Baylis does not recommend.

He cautioned that starting too early could affect a player’s swing as they get old making it less natural because of the strain they would have caused their back as children.

“I think nine to 10 years would be the ideal time to start playing golf but it’s just my opinion… but I coach kids so I think my opinion should matter,” Baylis warned.

Baylis was also impressed by the 11-year-old Keegan Shutt, who managed a top three finish playing against golfers seven years older than him.

“Keegan is one player who is showing great promise as a professional golfer because although he has been consistently coming third he is only 11 and competing against older athletes and he has not played as well as he should,” Baylis said.

The respected veteran golf coach praised the organisers of the Manicaland Junior Golf Championship which attracted a field of 65 golfers from areas like Chimanimani, Rusape, Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Chiredzi, Marondera, Harare and Gweru.

The tournament was convened by Polly Crewe with corporates like Leopard Rock Hotel, PEZA Trust Scotland, Hunlock, Sun Crest, Montana Meats, Tight Slot, Deslink Stationers, Ebbtide, Rock Pool and Mega Market all coming on board.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Hillside Sports Club, Jane Crewe, Matanuska, Hollands, Safe Guards, Brand Fresh and Fayzil Harverye were also part of the sponsors.

The first 18 holes of the tournament were held at the majestic Leopard Rock Hotel Golf Course before the players moved to Hillside Golf Club for the last 36 holes.

Chimanimani hotelier Jane High, who runs PEZA Trust, has the biggest pool of young golfers in Manicaland all of whom are coming from under-privileged backgrounds.

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