Hampshire’s junior squad enter their 2014 season with one big ambition – reaching the English Boys’ Finals for the third year running.
An intriguing campaign lies ahead for the under-18 team, who have lost the services of international stars Harry Ellis and Jack Singh-Brar.
Ellis has taken up a scholarship at Florida State University, while Singh-Brar has defected to Dorset.
That, however, has not dampened the spirits of junior manager John Moore, who says there is plenty of reason for optimism.
“I’m quietly confident that we can do well,” he said. “We are reasonably strong again, and there’s still quite a bit (of talent) coming through.”
After an 11-year absence, Hampshire reached the English County Finals in 2012, and they repeated the feat last season.
The regional qualifier is held in May this year, and Moore is hoping the players can make it, once again, to the showpiece event, at Sandiway, Cheshire, in August.
“Our aim is the six-man qualifier, at Copthorne, at the end of May,” he said. “That’s our aim, is to qualify for the finals for the third year running.”
Moore is also hoping for success in the south east junior foursomes this year, while he would love to see some of the county’s young stars contend for individual national titles.
Wealth of experience He believes that the support set-up is in place to encourage such success.
The under-18s and under-16s are coached by ex-England short game trainer Gary Smith, former Ryder Cup star Peter Dawson, Hockley professional Gary Stubbington and his Brokenhurst Manor counterpart Kevin Saunders.
Those four provide a wealth of experience, as do under-14 coaches Kevin Caplehorn and Chris Farr, both of Paultons Golf Centre.
Added to that, the county also retain the services of mind coach Peter Taylor and physio Robert Edmondson, who has worked with Hampshire Cricket Club.
“We try and give them the best,” said Moore.
Hampshire also operates its own talent-spotting system, called zone training, which splits the county into four areas, each with a ‘zone manager’, whose is responsible for unearthing the best young players.
“That’s where the Harrys and Jacks came through, as well as the likes of Justin Rose and Neil Raymond,” explained Moore.
“It’s a very strong set-up. We have always got our finger on the pulse of what’s happening with the clubs and with the juniors.”