‘TIS THE season for temporary greens, muddy lies and – in the most extreme of a British winter – even the course closed signs.
But for the country’s up and coming young golfers who are chasing their dream of playing at the highest level – and possibly even going on to join the professional ranks – there is little chance to stay in warming by the fireside.
Eloise Healey is one such player – a member of the England select squad, part of the Lancashire coaching set-up and determined to continue the progress that has seen her bring her handicap down to just 0.7 at the age of 15.
So the winter schedule in her Liverpool household can be just as hectic as a summer packed with events for country, county and individual honours for a player who is a member at both West Lancashire and Lee Park golf clubs.
“I am doing eight training sessions with England and three with Lancashire,” says the Blue Coat School pupil, who is also busy catching up on any missing course work as a result of her golfing endeavours. “I will also be working with my coach Alan Thompson.”
She trains with Lysa Jones as part of the England set-up at Sandburn Hall in Yorkshire while physio Julie Sparrow also offers advice and a programme of exercises.
“I am finding the coaching really useful,” added Eloise. “Lysa and Alan keep in touch so that I am being shown the same things to improve my game while the exercises are also very helpful. I have exercises and drills to do every day.
“It is nice to join the other girls at the training sessions so I am not just practising on my own over the winter.”
This summer has seen her emerge as a contender across a range of top tournaments and she heads into 2013 determined to try and break into the winner’s enclosure.
She actually led the English Girls championships at Delamere Forest after the opening two rounds, only to be overhauled and eventually finish fourth.
But despite the frustrations, there has been plenty to draw confidence from after Eloise started the season with a playing handicap of five.
She was one of the key players for Lancashire in the women’s county finals at Woodhall Spa.
Even though she was one of the team’s youngest players – she celebrated her 15th during the event and was presented with a surprise birthday cake by her teammates – she played eight of ten matches, winning six of them.
With mum Helle putting together a schedule which also included a number of the top women amateur events too, Eloise was fifth in the Birkdale Scratch, fourth in the Fairhaven Trophy and ninth at the Harper Salver.
She reached the final of The Daily Telegraph Junior Championships, held this year at Close House in the north east.
On the international front Eloise made her debut for England against Spain at Pannal, winning her singles match, while she also tried her hand at the English Women’s closed championship, held at Royal Birkdale, where she played all four rounds and finished 27th.
“I am happy with the way things have gone this year,” said Eloise.
“I wanted to get my handicap down to around one and now I want to push on and get down to scratch next year if I can.
“Doing so well in county finals week was one of the highlights. Being so young I was told I might not play many matches.
“I have moved to new clubs this year and I think they have helped me improve a lot. I have gained a lot of distance and am more accurate with my irons.
“It is very busy with everything I do but I just have to manage my time. I do get times to relax and the school is very supportive about me taking part in events and then catching up on my course work.”
Remarkably she still finds time to fit in other interests such as tennis and dance, while she is also closing in on her black belt in karate. But golf is her number one priority.
“I like to win, I am competitive, but golf is really enjoyable and rewarding to play,” she says. “It’s also a very sociable sport.”
Like many golfers in her position, Eloise will now seek some warm weather training, heading to America for a stay that will include both practise and tournaments, including the Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic and the Pars Florida Junior International.
Next year will again see Eloise pitting her skills against a mixture of her peer group while sampling the top events as she continues to chase down her ambition of becoming a Tour player. And despite her demanding programme, time is still on her side . . .