Laura's golden age

RISING North East golfer Laura Harvey is enjoying a real golden period.

RISING North East golfer Laura Harvey is enjoying a real golden period.

The Yorkshire and England golfer has been one of the region's top women players for the last four or five years and last month cemented her place in the national top rung of talent by winning the LGU Gold final at Morpeth and reducing her handicap to scratch.

Laura, who is based at Richmond Golf Club but also plays out of nearby Darlington, has been a regular for the White Rose county for the last five years or so, helping Yorkshire win both the North and national titles for the last four years.

That run sadly came to an end a few weeks ago when Yorkshire lost out to Lancashire in a winner-takes-all clash on the final day of the EWGA's Northern Region County Match Week at Heswall in Cheshire.

Even so, Laura played her part for the Tykes, winning 7.5 points out of 9 to be Yorkshire's top scorer.

She put that disappointment aside to then team up with fellow Tees Valley stars Ellie Robinson (Middlesbrough GC) and Kim Crooks (Saltburn GC) to win the Team Scratch Shield at the Northern Ladies' Championships at Workington.

But the 22-year-old, women's champion at Richmond for the last four years and at Darlington for the last two years, may have reached a defining moment in her career.

Dad John said: "Laura has decided that she needs to make a firm decision about her future at the end of this season. She really enjoys teaching and is thinking very seriously about getting her PGA qualifications.

"However, she's also thinking about trying for the women's professional tour and so she may go to the European Qualifying School in the New Year."

Laura has certainly enjoyed a glittering amateur career.

It all started when she was just ten-year-old when John and his wife Wendy were manager and caterer at Nuneaton Golf Club in Warwickshire.

John said: "Laura had never even lifted a golf club but she used to help out around the club by caddying and would watch the different players making their shots.

"One day she had a go at swinging a club and she was just a natural. We got hold of an old set of clubs and cut them down for her to use. She had to put four cards in to get a handicap and ended up going out late on a Saturday night to get her fourth card.

"She was given a handicap of 33 and then the next week was called into the county junior squad."

The Harveys moved to Richmond in 2001 and Laura's golfing career continued to blossom as she was picked for both Yorkshire and England girls.

She also captained the English Schools team in 2004 when the youngsters managed to beat Scotland and Wales on their home soil for the first time.

She also reached the semi-finals of the English Girls the following year and qualified for the Dubai final of the Daily Telegraph junior event.

Laura, who is largely self-taught though she has been helped by both Paul Jackson at Richmond and Craig Dilley at Darlington and has been coached by the Yorkshire and England coach Steve Robinson for the last four years, has also won the Northern Girls championship several times.

John, who was a member at Richmond until injury, added: "Laura's big target was always to get to scratch. A lot of the players she has grown up with, particularly those in the Yorkshire squad, have chosen to further their golfing education on scholarships to the US but Laura decided fairly early on that she didn't want to go down that route.

"Instead, she felt she would be able to keep on improving while based at home and that has proved to be the case. Being part of the Yorkshire squad has really helped as there is such an incredible depth of talent in the county - it's no mistake that they have been national champions for five years in a row.

"Laura's big target was always to get down to scratch and now she's achieved that, she's thinking about where to go next.

"She's been helping Craig Dilley at Darlington, working in the club shop and doing a bit of teaching with the kids, and she really enjoys it. She would like to be a teaching pro but she's also aware that she doesn't want to get to 30 and wonder if she could have made it on the professional tour.

"That said, she's a firm believer in getting qualifications behind you too and she certainly wants to teach at some stage so it makes sense to do the PGA course."

However, Laura won't be making any snap decisions before the end of the season and has several big tournaments coming up, including the English Women's Open Mid-Amateur Championship at Denham GC in Bucks in August.


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