Two and a half years after undergoing heart surgery a schoolboy is hoping to achieve his aim of earning a living from golf.
Initially, James Cooper did not think he was physically fit enough to follow his father into the professional ranks of the game – but his hopes have been lifted after a summer of success.
He has been part of the Newton Green Golf Club squad that has swept the board in Suffolk junior golf in recent months – and seen his own handicap plunge from 32 at the time of his operation to six.
By this time next year he hopes to be working part time with his dad Tim Cooper in the professional’s shop at Newton as a retailing apprentice. He will also study for sports B-Tech qualification at school. Within three years he hopes to become a full Professional Golfers Association degree student.
James, a 15-year-old pupil at Ormiston Academy, Sudbury, had a history of heart problems, although a heart murmur diagnosed at birth cleared up.
However, in his teens he experienced breathing problems and he was found to have lesions on his aorta, which restricted the blood flow to his body.
He was 13 at the time, and within a few weeks of undergoing open heart surgery won the club’s junior shield.
James recalls: “The win gave me a tremendous boost. After previously struggling with my breathing everything just took off and I began to dream of following in my father’s footsteps.
“The benchmark for becoming a scratch golfer is to halve your handicap each year.
“I started this year on 14, and now it is six. Because my handicap has been coming down so quickly I have not actually won any competitions, but it has still been a memorable season.
“I have played for the club in the Suffolk Tolly Cobbold competition, and been part of team performances which have seen Newton win titles at county junior level, and go on to represent the county nationally.”
James would like to clinch a place in Newton’s successful Suffolk Hambro Cup team and follow in the footsteps of fellow juniors Jed Seeley, Harvey Watts and Connor Talbot, who were part of this year’s winning side.
n Carole List, the manager at Newton Green Golf Club, has announced her intention to retire.
She will leave her post toward the end of the year, after being with the club for 14 years – the last 11 as manager.
Speaking of her record, chairman Peter Philpott, said: “With such a wealth of experience Carole will be missed, but she has decided the time is right to enjoy pursue her interests.
“Her service to Newton has covered many historic moments during a period of great change within the sport and its administration.
“She has seen the club celebrate its centenary in 2007, combat some of the most difficult financial times the sport has encountered, cope with ever more complicated administration requirements, and been at the helm as Newton has developed into one of the most successful and progressive clubs in Suffolk.
“Carole’s name will continue to feature in the life of Newton Green, as only last year she presented a trophy in the form of a claret jug for the scratch prize winner in our major golf week competition.
“The club’s committee now has to consider the management structure it needs to maintain and develop its progress still further.”
n The club is currently running a junior recruitment drive offer, which includes a free set of clubs for all young starters, and the opportunity to be part of the county’s most successful junior section.
Further details on the scheme are available on 01787-377217.