GOLFING brothers Oliver and Adam Clarke are celebrating a double opportunity to progress their hopes of winning England honours.
The pair – who live in Fazakerley in Liverpool and are both members at Formby Golf Club – have been called up for the new regional training squads for potential international players.
England Golf is establishing a new, streamlined structure to help nurture the next generation of top amateurs who could go on and follow the likes of Paul Casey and Lee Westwood into the professional ranks.
A team of ten coaches has been appointed around the country with the emphasis on delivering a more intensive programme for development to a smaller number of players.
“Oliver and Adam will take part in around 20 training sessions over the winter months,” explained dad Marvin, himself a plus one player and former club champion at Formby Hall.
Explaining the thinking behind the new Under-16 coaching set-up, Nigel Edwards, England Golf’s Director of Coaching, said: “We aim to give our talented young players the best golf development experience available.
“In return, we expect the players to commit themselves to a programme of golf coaching and physical training that will set them up for life, far beyond the U16 series of tournaments. By expanding our coaching commitment with this age group, we are giving England Golf the best chance of success at U18, men’s and ultimately touring professional level in future.”
He added: “The player with more hunger and thirst for improvement is always likely to come out the more proficient golfer in the long run.”
This season has seen 14-year-old Oliver claim the Lancashire under-14 title just days after letting the under-16 version slip through his grasp.
He bogeyed his final three holes at Bolton to lose out to Robert Durnan, of Blundells Hill GC, but showed great character to score a resounding victory a week later at Whalley.
He plays off one while 15-year-old brother Adam is down to four.
The brothers, who are both Everton season ticket holders and big baseball fans, started off at Aintree Driving Range before later moving to Mossock Hall and then Formby.
“Scott Duffy at Aintree did a tremendous job coaching them at the beginning,” says Marvin, “and I think he is one of the best around when it comes to helping young players develop their potential.
“Alan Thompson has also been a great help along with Mike Kanski for putting while they have been working with Adrian Fryer at TrueFit Golf and he has helped make tremendous improvements to their swing in the past 12 months.
“Formby, too, have been fabulous in supporting the two lads.”
Oliver has already attracted a lot of attention having won a string of events from the age of nine, while Adam has shown marked progress in recent years.
“There is a lot of sibling rivalry,” admits dad Marvin, who is assistant head teacher at Savio while mum Michelle is a nurse. “But I think that helps drive them on and Adam has made a lot of progress in the past year or so.”
Both have represented Lancashire this season and have an unbeaten record in county matches.
Next season could see the Maghull High School pupils play in more national events such as the McGregor or Carris Trophy, but Marvin insists they still have plenty of time to take their golf to a higher level.
“There is no rush to push them on,” he adds. “At this stage I think it is important that they continue to do the best they can against players of a similar age rather than worrying about being able to beat older players in the big national events.
“There is a danger that playing outside their age group can mean they end up learning to lose rather than learning to win.
“It is about managing expectations but the great thing is that they are such hard workers at their golf game – they have a net in the garage and are often at the driving range when others are not. We’ve had to scrape the snow off the mats before now.
“They are going to the gym now, too, to help their golf – they really are relentless in the effort and commitment they put in.”
Both lads would love to be able to turn professional when they get older, but before then they have the ambition of making the Walker Cup team by 2017. An England debut would go a long way towards helping them fulfil that dream.