Pictured above: Dorset girls with Charley Hull (back row, centre) and former Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas (back row, third right) and Caroline Masson (second right).
A trip to a Ladies European Tour championship and the chance to rub shoulders with top players turned into a title inspiration for Dorset’s Becky Dodd.
In the space of just two weeks she cut six shots off her handicap and won the Dorset girls’ championship, claiming both scratch and handicap prizes.
“It was a big inspiration,” said the 15-year-old from Sturminster Marshall, who was among a group of girls from the Dorset elite squad who visited the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters.
Becky had been playing off 18 handicap for two years but that changed when she returned from The Buckinghamshire. She came down to 16 in her first competition and then, in the county girls’ championship, she was cut to 12.
“I’ve never been really full-on with golf, but I found the whole day really interesting. I really enjoyed it and wanted to play more golf, more seriously,” said Becky, whose father, Mike, is the Sturminster Marshall professional and the coach to the Dorset elite girls’ squad.
The trip was arranged by England Golf and the Ladies European Tour to give young county players a look behind the scenes and the chance to talk to former England amateurs about their professional careers.
The girls, accompanied by Mike Dodd and their county junior organiser, Sheila Davidge, met players including LET order of merit winner Charley Hull and Dorset’s own Georgia Hall, who were among the world’s top amateurs before turning pro. A Q&A session to hear Hull, Alison Nicholas and Caroline Masson talk about their Solheim Cup experiences was also on the agenda.
They also enjoyed an hour-long conversation with Felicity Johnson, who was one of the youngest English amateur champions before becoming a winner on the LET. “We chilled out on bean bags under a tree and all asked different questions. The main thing she told us was how short game can make such a difference,” said Becky.
Now she’s planning to work with her father to further reduce her handicap and she’s setting new goals. “Initially I wanted to get below my age and then to get to 12 before my next birthday, which is in October. Now I’ve got to think of something else!”