Sheffield’s Golfer of the Year, Nick Poppleton, certainly has a busy 12 months ahead of him.
The 21-year-old holder of the Tee Up Trophy, first presented to the region’s top amateur golfer by the Sheffield Telegraph, has set his sights on challenging for a tour card as a professional by the end of the season.
But the youngster, who represents Yorkshire, Sheffield and his home club Wath, faces a tough challenge in order to achieve his objective, and is hoping is may find a sponsor to help him offset the steep costs of competing in elite amateur events.
Nick took a job helping in the pro shop at Waterfront GC to help him raise some funds, and is grateful to the senior section of his home club - who have donated £250 to help towards his bills.
His parents, Andrew and Jane are playing their part, and his dad has come out of retirement to take a job at a supermarket.
“I have set my heart in competing with the best and to see how far I can go,” said Nick, who plays off +2.
“My ambition is to play in the major elite competitions this season with the hope of reach Q School to see if I can get a card. I really want to play at the highest level to see how far away from the pros I am.”
Nick, born and bred in Thorpe Hesley, was introduced to the game by his grandfather at the age of 10 but started taking the game seriously at 14.
“I set myself a target of halving my handicap every year for the first three and I managed to drop from 24 to 12, 12 to 6 and finally from 6 to 3,” he said.
At that stage he moved to Wath because he wanted to play in their league team, and he has been a regular.
His form has seen him cement his place in the Sheffield and Yorkshire squads - and he hopes to continue to support the teams as time permits this year.
A spell at the Tournament Golf College in Plymouth saw Nick play regularly in Spain and Portugal where he won a Jamega Pro Tour event at Vila Sol.
“Back home I sat down with my coach Ben Mason and discussed my career goals and set a timetable,” he added.
“The plan is to get into Q school and see if I can make the grade. My ambition is to be a tour pro but we will have to wait and see.”
His early season has started favourably - he made the cut at the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin, competed in the west of England amateur at Saunton and has been on the reserve list in elite amateur events on the continent.
With the season getting into its stride he hopes to qualify at Clitheroe for the top amateur event the Brabazon Trophy, held this year at the Notts Golf Club.
He will also compete in several of the top competitions throughout the season in the hope of reaching his goal.
As Nick has already discovered, the path to golfing glory does not come cheaply. He estimates he may well need to spend in excess of £6,000 this year on entry fees, travel, hotel bills and food: “I guess I will be away between 15 and 20 days a month but I have set my heart on doing my best to reach my goals,” he says.
First presented by the Sheffield Telegraph in 1973, the Tee Up Trophy is awarded to the player accumulating the most points from the Sheffield Union of Golf Club’s “majors” – The Sheffield Open, The Sheffield Amateur, The Lockwood Trophy, The Sheffield Stroke Play, the Amateur Plate - as well as points won in the Inter District Championship and the Inter District League.
Nick would be very grateful if any potential sponsor could contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be following Nick over the season and reporting on his progress.
Nick was on song in Sheffield Union’s first match of the season, winning his match against old rivals Leeds. But it was his Wath team-mate Gary Fullwood who stole the show with a 30 foot putt on the last to win his match and settle the game.
Other Sheffield winners in the singless were Ben Brewster, Matt Evans, Neil Stones, Dominic Moon and Lewis Hollingworth. Sheffield won the match, held at Silkstone, 20-16.
Meanwhile, Abbeydale member Miles Davidson is one step away from playing in the final of the Lombard Trophy at Gleneagles after winning a qualifier at his club.
The 52-year-old doctor from Froggatt, handicap seven, will compete with his club pro Nigel Perry in the regional qualifer on June 9. Up for grabs are 16 places in the final.
Entries are now open for his year’s prestigious amateur event, the Banning Cup - held each year at Tinsley Golf Club. Staged on June 20, the deadline for entries - open to all members of a Sheffield Union of Golf Clubs affiliated clubs - is June 17.
Entry forms are available from Peter Craig (07870595292) or from www.tinsleyparkgolfclub.co.uk.