Golf sensation Junior Dobson comes under scrutiny

Eight-year-old Corbridge golfing sensation Junior Dobson is coming under scrutiny at an international selection day for northern Under-16s

Eight-year-old golfer Junior Dobson
Eight-year-old golfer Junior Dobson

If you look at YouTube you can see England Golf have not lost their marbles, despite inviting eight-year-old Junior Dobson to Matfen Hall’s academy on Saturday when he will come under scrutiny at an international selection day for northern Under-16s.

Type in the words “young patrick junior at golf”, click on the video flagged “smarty pants” and marvel at a trick shot with a eight iron Junior has been able to do since he was five.

This involves balancing one golf ball on top of another at a driving range then hitting the lower ball and catching the top ball one-handed. Seeing is believing.

He may be 4ft tall and weigh just over 5st, but his father Alan says: “One thing Junior will definitely not be is overawed.

“He’s a right little show-off. He’s been in this situation before at golf sessions with older and bigger lads and he loves going through his tricks. They tend to be just as impressed with that as he is watching them crack the ball 300 yards.

 

“This time around he may be just a tad too young for selection. We’ll see.”

Junior, christened Patrick, picked up a nickname which stuck in Thailand, where he was born, and where he first honed his golf swing toddling along beaches.

A 24-handicapper, he has brought honour to his beloved home club of Tynedale by winning the first junior major he has played, the Wee Wonders at St Andrews.

A pupil at Broomhaugh Church of England First School in Riding Mill, Junior came through the regional qualifier at Chester-le-Street four shots clear of the field.

That put him in the seven-eight years’ age group final at the home of golf, played off scratch over two days and 27 holes on the nine-hole Balgove course.

He shot 34 and 33 on the first day to lie three shots off the lead. In the last round, he signed for 32 to win by one and become the only player in his group – and this in a UK field – to shoot under 100.

It is at around this stage of such a highly gifted youngster’s career that so much can depend on how his parents register on the Richter magnitude scale of previous case histories, which veers from wonderfully supportive to grotesquely pushy.

Thankfully for Junior, Dobson senior has walked a similar road before. The son from Alan’s marriage to first wife Janet, 35-year-old Alex Dobson, is a former county amateur golfer and Challenge Tour professional who did not make it and is now working in banking.

At a time when Alan and his second wife, Nok, were living in Nok’s native Thailand, Alex visited them for a holiday which coincided with Junior’s first birthday.

Among the presents was a set of plastic clubs. Watching the first emphatic golf swings of Junior’s life left both Alan and Alex wide eyed and wondering: “Where did that come from?”

Alan said: “We’d walk the beaches of Phuket, Junior with his plastic club, me placing small sea shells on sand tees, him hitting them. That was his introduction to golf.”

Junior’s talent was such that, when he was four, Alan and Nok moved home from Phuket to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.

This enabled their son to become the youngest pupil ever to take up a sports and academic pre-school scholarship at the Prem Tinsulanonda International School, where there is a a golf academy.

Junior spent more than three years developing his golf – alongside teenagers – before his parents decided to move to Alan’s native North East, his first family having been raised in Shotley Bridge.

“It was mainly because as helpful as the school authorities were in Thailand, we felt in the long term Junior’s golf would make more progress in England,” said Alan, 62, a semi-retired IT worker who now lives in Corbridge.

“Nok had visited the region with me before, so she knew about our winters. Another factor was that I had health problems. I have tinnitus and while I was having a scan connected with that, it was discovered I had had a minor stroke, which I knew nothing about until then.

“This week marks a year since I came back to the North East and it has all worked out well.

“Junior is happy at his school and the Tynedale club is perfect for learning because it has nine holes, it is tight which encourages accuracy, the greens are excellent and the club sets out to encourage youngsters.

“He practises at Matfen and he is joining there and Hexham next month, but he will keep up his junior membership at Tynedale, who have been so helpful and supportive to us.”

:: Victory at St Andrews has qualified Junior Dobson for the US Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst, North Carolina, in August.

That’s a £2,000-plus expense for a family who as yet receive no grants from any golfing or council authorities.

If you would like to help a potential star of the future, you can do so through an appeal for Junior on the national website inspireastar.org

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