Mini master golfer Charlie Ward is on a globetrotting world tour of golf’s major tournaments after being spotted by top scouts for his prestigious talent at the age of just six years.
Charlie and his parents Tony and Karen Ward from Mobberley with sister Purdey (4) will first travel to Scotland for the European Championships, before spending 26 days on the road with a European tour event in Switzerland, then jetting off to the USA for the Callaway World Junior Championships, previously won by Tiger Woods, then the World Junior Masters in Las Vegas and finally the US Junior Open in North Carolina.
A pupil at Altrincham Preparatory School, Charlie only took up the game, he says, “at the age of five-and-a-quarter” but adds proudly “I am now six-and-three-quarters and beginning to improve.”
His dad Tony, who is Head of Global Licensing for PUMA, first recognised his exceptional ability when they won a father and son alternate shot nine hole event at Adlington Driving Range. Tony, who has been as low as 12, but now plays off a handicap of 20, said: “It was the first time I had put a card in for a score of 35 for nine holes for many years.”
Veteran British junior golf aficionado Graham Moore, who has been developing Britain’s best young golfer for 30 years, learned of this emerging star and has since taken him under his wing, with Charlie getting specialist coaching and invites to a six and under tournaments at Wildwood in Surrey, where he came third and then The British Open, where he came sixth despite carding a 10 on one hole when got he marooned in a deep bunker he could not see out of.
Now he regularly breaks 90 on tough local courses and, together with his dad and his granddad Lee Walker, roams the fairways at Mobberley and Adlington, every spare minute.
Charlie said: “I can’t beat dad yet, but I think I will be able to beat him by the time I am 11, but I can certainly beat granddad. I think dad should have listened more to his coach when he was younger.”
Standing just 4ft 6ins and weighting little more than 70 lbs, Charlie can already hit the ball 175 yards courtesy of a clinical swing that is being honed by the experts.
When asked what his top tips for the amateur golfer would be, Charlie said: “You want a short backswing, turn your shoulders, release the club head through the ball and have a full follow through”
Dad Tony, who is funding the intercontinental trip, said: “We hope it will be the trip of a lifetime, with many more to come. It’s a bit worrying because Purdey at the age of just four is beginning to show potential as well, and it could all get quite expensive.”
Tony added: “The key is to get the swing technically perfect at a young age, myself and my dad are basically beyond help, but I attend every session, listen to the expert advice and then when we are out together work on implementing those swing ideas I have taken from Graham Moore and his coach James Hopkins at the Trafford Centre.” Tony added: “I am also delighted that he is at APS which has its own golf programme and places such a strong emphasis on sporting provision for boys.” APS Headmaster Andrew Potts said: “Charlie obviously has an innate talent for golf, which has been furthered by his enthusiasm and the supportive structures in place. It has been fascinating to see the level to which these underpinning strengths have taken his golfing standard and we wish him well over the summer period. There are good omens for Charlie as well as he bears the same name as the winner of British Order of Merit in 1948, that Charlie Ward also twice coming third in the British Open in 1948 and 1951. Mum Karen said: “We are all none too sure if golfing ability is in our genes, but at least we have a namesake who was one of the best in the world during his heyday.” Charlie, whose favourite golfer is Lee Westwood, had the last word. “I want to be a professional golfer. That’s my dream, what else is there?”
(Manchester Evening News, Altrincham Messenger, Trafford Express and Cheshire Independent, Granada Reports)