Kelly inspired by Festival day

Those of us who despair at the failure of some golf administrators to grasp every opportunity to take the people's sport to all-comers will be heartened by the story of primary school pupil Kelly McNulty.

Kelly McNulty

Those of us who despair at the failure of some golf administrators to grasp every opportunity to take the people's sport to all-comers will be heartened by the story of primary school pupil Kelly McNulty.

Around ten months ago, Kelly's experience of golf consisted of biffing a ball about in a field near her home in Tynemouth Village and watching on television with her father, Lee, and her mother, Elaine - both non-golfers.

Then the family read in The Journal about the world's biggest one-day golf coaching festival - aimed at beginners and novices - which will go ahead for the fifth time this year at Matfen Hall on Sunday August 5.

Last year, the organisers were deluged with thank-you letters after 330 boys and girls aged five to 15 flocked to free tuition at The Rock Junior Golfing Festival.

Professionals from all over the PGA North Region - from North Wales to the Borders - are recruited to this North-East open day to give away golf lessons to the youngsters and put on demonstrations.

Kelly, now 11 years old, has made rapid progress since.

Having started on festival day 2006 with Matfen coach Paul Fiddes, she's also had the benefit of advice from John McKenna, the professional at her home club, Tynemouth, and European Tour pro Gary Lockerbie's coach, Paul Jenkinson, at Penrith Golf Centre.

She's already aced the 129-yard second at the centre's nine-hole course - with her driver - and won both the Gubeon Flag Day and a Daily Telegraph junior qualifier at Whitley Bay, where she is also a member and enjoys their junior skills programme.

Kelly, a pupil at Tynemouth Priory, said: "The festival is a really good day. I went along with my sister Hannah, who was six at the time, and we had a little go at most parts of the game. We loved it.

"Before the festival, we went to Tynemouth to get in a little bit of practice and John McKenna had little fun clubs we were able to use. That was good fun, too. I just like to play golf. I love to check my result and go through the card to see where I can improve. It's great being out there in the fresh air and in lots of nice places."

Most of the professionals coaching the youngsters at this year's junior festival will also compete in The Rock tournament, the biggest PGA regional event in England, being played at Matfen from Monday to Wednesday, August 6-8.

Like the junior festival, the tournament, to which admission is free for spectators, is sponsored heavily by Northern Rock.

The professional tournament, the Sunday festival and the junior pro-am that accompanies it is backed to a total of £50,000.

At this year's Sunday coaching festival, the professionals will put on three sessions - from 10am to noon, from 12.30pm to 2pm and from 2.30pm to 4pm.

* TO ask about how to register youngsters, parents should ring the PGA North Region on (01204) 496137.

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