New Norfolk captain hopes he'll be forced to drop himself
Lyndsey HewisonRoyal Norwich golfer Jon Baker-Odlin - a man with a passion for success - has been appointed as the Norfolk men's county captain.His immediate ambition is to do himself out of a place in the team, by encouraging and promoting the county's promising young players.Lyndsey Hewison
Royal Norwich golfer Jon Baker-Odlin - a man with a passion for success - has been appointed as the Norfolk men's county captain.
His immediate ambition is to do himself out of a place in the team, by encouraging and promoting the county's promising young players. If he succeeds in that he will almost certainly achieve his other aim: to create a team which challenges for honours.
Baker-Odlin takes over at an exciting time for Norfolk golf, with a good number of very promising players coming through. They include Tom Clements of Royal Norwich, Matthew Bacon of Costessey Park, Charlie Bright of Royal Cromer, and Luke Johnson of KingLynn, who has returned to the county set-up after a spell away with BB&O (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire).
'One of the biggest things for me is youth development, trying to build for the future and creating a team that can compete,' said Baker-Odlin.
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'That process has already started and it's something I want to continue in my captaincy. There are a number of good youngsters about and they will provide a base I can build on for this year and for next year going forward. I think we will soon be challenging for trophies and in the Anglian League.'
He added: 'It's my passion to get guys performing so they are challenging and winning. I'm hoping to do myself out of a place in the team - that's my ambition. I want them to be challenging for my place.'
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He's also planning to spread the word about the county set-up and plans to visit all clubs to explain the selection process and to advise those who are keen to push for a place in the team. Baker-Odlin brings wide experience of both professional play and county golf to his new role.
He started his golf in Norfolk, based at Gt Yarmouth & Caister, before embarking on a nine-year professional playing career.
'I didn't want to be a PGA professional, my ambition was to be a player and I went to Australia, Asia, Africa and America but unfortunately I wasn't successful. I decided that was enough for me and hung up my irons.'
He turned instead to a career in computing and didn't touch a golf club for around a decade.
Then a spell of gardening leave left him with time on his hands and he dusted down his clubs, put his three cards in and returned to the game with a handicap of plus-one, which he has maintained ever since.
Not surprisingly, Middlesex grabbed him for their county side and he also became involved in their coaching and development committee.
Baker-Odlin then moved to Somerset, where he had a hotel in Bath, and joined the county team there for six years. He was twice Somerset champion and would have been county captain there this year - but for a move back to Norfolk for family reasons. He now runs a golf training academy at Sprowston Manor.
He was quickly snapped up by Norfolk and over the past two seasons has shown spectacular style. The offer of the county captaincy came, says Baker-Odlin, as a 'major shock' - but a welcome one.
'I am extraordinarily pleased and very happy to take on the role and the responsibilities.'
He succeeds Ian Hardy of King's Lynn, who has stepped down as captain because of heavy commitments in his work as a property developer. He will continue to be available for selection, provided time permits and he feels his game is on form.
'I haven't got enough time to do the job the way I wanted to and so this is best both for me and the county,' said Hardy. 'It's brilliant that Jon is taking over - I think he will be an excellent captain.'
Have you got a golf story to tell? Contact Lyndsey Hewison on 01603 507416 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org