New state representative, Sheridan Gorton, with the man aiding her in her quest for golf stardom, coach Graeme Trew. John Gass
New state representative, Sheridan Gorton, with the man aiding her in her quest for golf stardom, coach Graeme Trew. John Gass John Gass Twesheridan

Sheridan sizzles

SWEET sixteen and hasn't been missed by state selectors.

That's Murwillumbah Golf Club's hot prospect Sheridan Gorton, who has earned selection in the NSW Junior team to compete at the Australian Junior Championships on the Carbrook course in Brisbane on April 11-13 and the Interstate Match-play Championships at the same venue on April 15-17.

Sheridan flew to Sydney last week, hopeful yet confident of earning a berth in the six-member squad by successfully competing in two 18-hole tournaments.

Low scores in either or both events wasn't the be-all-end-all for her selection prospects - her previous performances over the past 12 months would also be considered - but solid performances certainly wouldn't harm her chances.

First cab off the rank was an open women's event at The Lakes, where if the wind is blustery, high scores are normally the order of the day.

True to form, the wind blew, and blew, and blew and true to course, the many lakes around the course claimed many a ball.

"At first I was disappointed with my 91 - I haven't shot anything like that in years - but I did finish in the first third of the competition and that wind really was nasty," Sheridan said.

Then it was on to the New South Wales course at La Perouse on Sunday, when Sheridan's wizardry with a club resulted in a three-over-par 78 - a better indication of how she can play.

Her playing partner during the round was Denise Hutton, the NSW junior girls' coach, who, because Sheridan was the only non-metropolitan girl under consideration for selection, decided to "tag along" to determine something of her character on a golf course.

Hutton was impressed not only by Sheridan's stroke play but by her demeanour - it gave the young lass a big head-start when selectors sat down that night to pick the state squad.

Sheridan has been playing the game since she was eight, after being introduced to the sport by her father Les, himself no slouch with club in hand - he's a single-handicap player.

She quickly began chopping sizeable chunks off her handicap and by the time she was 14 was playing off six.

But then she hit a flat spot and within six months the handicap had ballooned back to nine - and that immediately became 13 under a new handicapping system introduced in 2010, in which only a player's last 20 scores determine her handicap.

That's when she decided to walk down the hill from the clubhouse to the Murwillumbah Golf Academy, which highly qualified coach Graeme Drew had recently set-up at the club's driving range. "Graeme and I talked about how and where my golf was going," Sheridan recalled. "I liked what he had to say, so I decided to join his squad - best thing I ever did."

Hard work and more hard work began to make an impact on Sheridan's game and gradually the strokes began to be wiped from her handicap, especially over the past six months, when it has plummeted from six down to one.

Drew, who has been at the coaching caper for more than 20 years in Victoria and Queensland and now at Murwillumbah, possesses all the right qualifications to be imparting golf knowledge - he is a National AAA Coach and also holds a Level 5 Diploma of Coaching.

But that golf knowledge is only part of the reason he is a success at coaching - he develops a rapport with his charges and possesses that innate gift of being able inspire and get the best out of people.

He has 30 children in his squad, whose ages range from six-17 years. All of them have improved under his guidance and besides Sheridan there are a few others going places in the sport - Lucas and Bianca Higgins, Ethan Mitchell and Alex Hunt among them.

Sheridan had a remarkable year in 2011, following up her victory by eight strokes in the 2010 Murwillumbah Ladies championship she took out 2012 by a whopping 41 strokes.

She also walloped a hot field of 220 women from all over Australia and New Zealand in the Mt Warning Classic on her home course - carding 76-74 to win by 15 strokes. Little wonder Sheridan was an easy winner of the Northern Rivers District Golf Association Junior Order of Merit - she contested seven of the 13 events on the NRDGA circuit and won six of them.

Graham Trew is delighted with Sheridan's progress but stresses that for her to realise her dream of turning professional within three years, there are still aspects of her game open to improvement.

"Her driving is excellent - she can thump them 220m - and so too is her putting, where she has made massive improvement. And while her approaches from around 120m are good, there's still a lot of work to be done with her shorter approach shots," Trew said.

"Both of us know where she can knock another three or four strokes off her handicap and that's what she'll have to do to be competitive in the pro ranks."

Chasing your sporting dream doesn't come cheap. If you can offer a sponsorship, which could help make Sheridan's dream come true, contact Graeme Trew on 0411 752 170.

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