Last year, we reported how Ladies European Tour member Ellie Givens has been mentoring aspiring professional golfer, Ellie Gower, 16, since the pair met when Gower was a 12-year-old attending the 2014 Lacoste Ladies Open de France.
Givens invited Gower to caddie for her in the 2015 event and in every subsequent French Open, which has helped her to develop her game to a level where she is now targeting a place at The 2019 PING Junior Solheim Cup.
Under the guidance of her father, who is a golf teaching professional, Gower has reduced her handicap from 36 to +2.3 in four years, recently won the North of England Under-16 Championship at Pannal Golf Club, where she shot 14-under-par for four rounds, came second at the England Girls’ Strokeplay Championship and has been selected to the England national squad, training at Woodall Spa.
She has had a phenomenal 2018 season and a proud Givens explained: “I first met Ellie when her parents brought her to watch the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Golf de Chantaco in 2014 when she had just turned 12. At that point, she played a little bit of golf but not much and her dad thought it might increase her enthusiasm if she came to watch us play. I noticed them watching my group on all four days so went and thanked them at the end of the tournament. When I started talking to them they explained that they lived in France but were English and had followed me because we shared a name. After that, Ellie added me on Facebook and we stayed in touch, so when I was preparing for the 2015 event I thought it could be a nice opportunity for her to see it all up close as my caddie.
“It’s been so rewarding for me watching Ellie’s golf develop and I’m very proud of her achievements so far. I was actually joking with her in Bordeaux about some of the questions she asked me in 2015 compared to the ones she asks now. This year, she was able to help me read putts and make course management decisions for the first time and it’s been amazing to see how someone can develop from almost beginner level to become a top level amateur in such a relatively short space of time.”
Gower, who is studying for her French and Spanish A-levels, added: “When Ellie asked me to caddie for her, I was like, ‘wow! That’s really cool!’ Being inside the ropes and getting to see how the professionals play has really helped my game. Ellie helped motivate me and show me how it all works on the Ladies European Tour.”
During the recent Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Golf du Medoc, Givens introduced Gower to the European PING Junior Solheim Cup team captain, Mickey Walker, as the four-time Solheim Cup captain was working as a television commentator.
Walker was impressed by Gower’s rapid progress and will be following her results closely in the coming months, especially now that she has moved from France to Gleneagles in Scotland, the venue for The Solheim Cup and the PING Junior Solheim Cup.
For Gower, the PING Junior Solheim Cup represents the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of her sporting heroine, Charley Hull, who played in the junior event in 2011 and has since represented Europe in The Solheim Cup three times, in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
She said: “Ellie Givens is my favourite golfer but I also follow Charley. To play in the Junior Solheim Cup and hopefully progress to The Solheim Cup in the future would be a dream.
“I’m going to try to play in as many qualification events as I can. It would be a great experience and I love playing at Gleneagles as well, so that would be a huge bonus.”
A spread of 10 world-class amateur events across Europe will offer the opportunity for Europe’s best juniors to make their mark and climb the PING Junior Solheim Cup 2019 Ranking. The leading 6 players will be joined by 6 captain’s picks to play over the Kings Course at Gleneagles on September 10-11, 2019, just prior to The Solheim Cup, on the PGA Centenary Course on September 13-15.
Find out more about the PING Junior Solheim Cup qualification events and eligibility criteria here.