North East golfing ladies jet off to US scholarships

Two England female golfers from the North East are to head overseas to the US for scholarships on the college circuit

Samantha Taylor at Parklands Golf Club before she heads off to the United States

Female professional golfers get fleeting opportunities to promote themselves on television compared to men, so the thrills and spills involved in watching Europe defend the Solheim Cup in the Rocky Mountains on Sky Sports this week are a rare shop window.

Meanwhile, two 18-year-old England players from Newcastle are heading off to scholarships on the college circuit in the States. Both coached by Matfen Hall’s JJ Vallely, they will be tuned in as events unfold at Colorado Golf Club.

There is also more homespun achievement driving on Nicola Haynes and Samantha Taylor, following the recent Teeing Off article on another Newcastle golfer, Jenny Lee Smith, the first winner of the Women’s British Open who this year has become a best-selling author.

Haynes, a member of the Northumberland club who has won the Northumberland Ladies’ Championship two years running, said: “I am inspired and encouraged by Jenny Lee Smith’s achievements, especially as she is from Newcastle.

“Seeing her name on the county championship trophy has encouraged me to aim high too.”

Taylor said: “I would love to follow in Jenny Lee Smith’s footsteps.

“Her achievements on the course as a truly successful lady player and the fact she came from the North East have been an inspiration to me to keep pushing on, even when things don’t go your way.”

At this stage, Haynes is on target to go further in the game. She plays off scratch whereas Taylor’s handicap is four.

Nicola Haynes who won the Ladies Northumberland Golf Championship
Nicola Haynes who won the Ladies Northumberland Golf Championship

Haynes, a former Central Newcastle High School pupil, who lives in Gosforth, starts at James Madison University in Virginia on Monday where she will be majoring in chemistry.

Last year, she captured the St Andrews Junior Ladies’ Championship and the Northern Region schools title. Taylor, who lives in Cullercoats and is a member of Parklands and Tynemouth, starts at King University in Bristol, Tennessee, on Monday week.

She went to Marden High School then Whitley Bay Sixth Form College and will be majoring in photography and digital media. The Taylor family left last week for a road trip to Tennessee via Orlando in Florida, visiting Augusta, North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains on the way.

Taylor was Northumberland junior champion in 2009 and the county schools winner in 2012 and 2013. She is in her second year as a member of the England Futures Squad, achieving a hole in one at the English Girls’ Open at Sandiway last year.

Coach Vallely has worked with Haynes for three years and with Taylor for two months.

“They both have excellent attitudes and are easy to work with,” he said. “They put the hard graft in. With Samantha I have been preparing more of a blueprint for her to take to the States, because her coach in Tennessee may not be quite as technical from a hands-on coaching point of view.

“Samantha has a consistent game, she does not produce many destructive shots and she’s a good putter. Nicola is slightly different in that after three years of coaching I am not giving her any sort of blueprint!

“She is highly athletic and has been good at a whole range of sports in her time.

“Nicola is highly meticulous and her course management is excellent. I’m sure they will both benefit from time in America.”

Meanwhile Lee Westwood, attached to Close House, has seen a pupil at one of his golf schools awarded a university scholarship.

Megan Taylor, 18, will attend Wingate University, North Carolina, after graduating from the Lee Westwood Golf School in Essex this year.


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