Golfer Tom’s driving ambition

JPCT 140414 S14161544x Tom Hayward, 26, local golfer at Mannings Heath -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140414-103200001

JPCT 140414 S14161544x Tom Hayward, 26, local golfer at Mannings Heath -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140414-103200001

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Professional golfer Tom Hayward aims to help the next generation of potential stars improve their game when his academy swings its way into Cranleigh School next month.

Tom, a member at Mannings Heath and Wildwood Golf Club, is hosting an open day at the school on June 1 that is free and open to anyone aged between 11 and 16.

The day will consist of a general introduction to the game, a skills clinic, demonstrations and on course competitive challenges.

Tom’s journey in the sport had not been the usual one. Although a keen sportsman from a young age, he had only ever played golf casually by the time he graduated from Exeter University with a first class honours degree in sports science in 2010.

He was all set to pursue a career in London when a chance encounter completely altered his path.

“I was playing golf at Mannings with my sister, who was the only one in the family who could really play.” Tom, from Maplehurst explained. “I was approached by ex-European Tour player and coach Carl Watts, who said he was impressed with what he saw and offered to train me for nine months to see how quickly I could develop my game. It was a complete change of direction and a big leap of faith, but when someone who has played on the European Tour for nine years says something you listen.”

By the end of the nine months Tom had got his handicap down to scratch, and come the end of 2011 he turned professional.

After overcoming initial struggles in his first events on the Jamega Pro Tour against seasoned pros, Tom’s progression has been impressive.

He won his first tournament on the Jamega Tour in November last year, and this year he had secured three top seven finishes in the seven events he’s entered so far.

At the age of 26, Tom still harbours a burning ambition to play at the very highest level and secure a European Tour Card. To do so he will have to come through three extremely tough rounds of qualifying, beginning in September at a cost of £4,000. But he said: “Getting on the European Tour is my goal, and though it’s tough, I know if I continue to work hard at my game there’s no reason why it can’t happen.”