County champion turned away by her home club

Lyndsey HewisonTeenager Jennifer Hide - who recently became Norfolk youngest county ladies' champion - has had an application to rejoin Dereham Golf Club declined. The club has told her that the junior section is full - but they are continuing to admit youngsters who meet certain criteria and their website states: membership for all categories is available.Lyndsey Hewison

Teenager Jennifer Hide - who recently became Norfolk youngest county ladies' champion - has had an application to rejoin Dereham Golf Club declined.

The club has told her that the junior section is full - but they are continuing to admit youngsters who meet certain criteria and their website states: membership for all categories is available.

The club has vacancies in its ladies' section and, says its chairman, it would like to increase its female membership.

Jennifer, who is currently representing Norfolk in this week's East region County Match Week, left Dereham last autumn when her subscription more than doubled but applied to rejoin her local club this year when her father started working abroad. She is hoping to get a golf scholarship to an American university and her mother is unable to take her to her home club, Royal Norwich, as often as necessary for practice.


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Jennifer's application was supported by a letter from her mother, Mary-Ann, explaining her circumstances and suggesting that her daughter should only use the practice facilities and at off-peak times. The 16-year-old can walk to the club from her home.

The application was declined. Dereham's management committee chairman Stuart Bizley explained that club decided last year to cap its junior section at 45. It continues to admit other juniors who meet certain criteria and the section currently has more than 50 members. Jennifer is the only junior whose application has been declined and she has been placed on a waiting list of one.

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'Jennifer applied for membership and didn't meet the necessary criteria,' said Mr Bizley.

'We are a members' club and it is for the members to decide on which basis they admit members to the club,' he said. 'If we make one exception it becomes very difficult.'

Juniors are currently admitted if they are related to a club member, if they are joining with a full paying adult member, or if they are transferring their membership from another club and have a CONGU handicap. Dereham's decision has been made at a time when the sport's governing bodies are actively working with clubs to encourage girl golfers.

Steven Peet, the EGU/EWGA east region development officer commented: 'This is clearly an unfortunate situation, especially when we are working so hard on a national and local level to try and encourage more girls to become involved in golf and retain them within our game.

'After speaking to Stuart Bizley, the chairman of the management committee at Dereham Golf Club, I am now aware of the reasons behind the decision although that does not mean I necessarily agree with them. I hope to discuss this matter further with the club in due course and try to ensure a similar situation doesn't happen again.

'It must also be said that Dereham Golf Club has a very active junior section supported by some extremely enthusiastic individuals and I certainly would not want this issue to reflect badly on them.'

Norfolk county captain Nickie Clarke remarked: 'This is a difficult and disappointing situation when we are trying to encourage junior girls.'

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