Last month Hyo Joo Kim, who turned professional at the age of 17, had never won an LPGA event and was not even a member of the tour, won the Evian Masters at the age of 19, beating Karie Webb by one shot, who is 20 years her senior.
Not only that, she is the first player to shoot 61 in either a men’s or ladies major championship. The lowest round in a men’s major is 63 which was posted by Jason Dufner en route to winning the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill last year.
I began playing golf at the age of ten, which by today’s standards is quite old, becoming a junior member at Chesterfield Golf Club. I was also one of only a handful of junior girl members.
Playing golf as a career didn’t seriously cross my mind until I was 16. At the age of 24, after representing England for ten years, I took the plunge onto the professional ranks, earning my ‘card’ on the Ladies European Tour and relinquishing my amateur status with a handicap of +4.
Back then, there were no direct incentives to get juniors involved in golf at an early age. Nowadays there are schemes in place to give both boys and girls the opportunity to play as children. Golf is introduced in schools and government figures show that 66 per cent of secondary schools now offer golf. Almost a third of schools now have direct links to local golf clubs, encouraging more juniors to make the natural progression into club golf.
Parents also get their children into golf at such an earlier age and then specialise only in golf. As a consequence, elite players are now getting younger and younger, becoming worldwide stars.
Golf as a whole is changing. Players are progressing onto the professional circuit at an earlier age, are extremely mature, performing well under enormous amounts of pressure. They have the confidence and freedom that youth brings and the ability to not only play exceptionally but beat their idols!
Next month at The Fame Golf Academy: Night Golf!