Should Junior Girls Be Allowed To Compete In (And Win) Women’s Competitions?

Carly Frost recalls the days when she was not allowed to win the silverware in the women’s section at her home club and takes a candid view on the decision

Junior girl golfer playing off fairway
(Image credit: Andy Dow Photography)

I’ll never forget winning my first ‘major’ club competition. I was 14 years-old and it was on Lady Captain’s Day - one of the most coveted trophies of the year. I’ve still got the pictures of me, a fresh-faced junior, collecting a beautiful little silver trinket box from the Lady Captain. But I didn’t walk away with the trophy to accompany it. A club policy, at the time, stipulated that although I was allowed to play in and win the competition, as a junior I wasn’t allowed the silverware.

Although a few decades have since passed, many clubs and including certain competitions at ours, still have a policy where juniors can enter, but not win the trophies in the women’s section.

In many ways this seems extremely harsh on aspiring young golfers and a little bit unsporting. After all, if they've scored brilliantly, surely they truly deserve their success to be celebrated? 

As a long-standing member of the club I used to have this belief but with age has come the sense of seeing the viewpoint from the other side of the coin. Juniors are undoubtedly the most over-handicapped players in the club. Especially when new to the game and improving all the time, they are infinitely more capable of shooting extraordinary scores than the adults who they are competing alongside. 

Junior girl golfer driving

(Image credit: Andy Dow Photography)

For them to score 10 shots or better in a competition is perfectly normal. And as their golf improves so their handicap comes tumbling down. We all went through this exciting period of learning and improving but while they are doing so, should they be denied the joy of lifting the trophy that on paper they won?

As a low handicapper I actually do believe so, because there are probably only a handful (at best) junior girls in the field of players and allowing them to compete as equals alongside the rest of the women in the club takes away the fun of playing in that competition for us. A 14-year-old off a 34 handicap can easily score 45 points or more - I cannot (short of shooting the equivalent of eight-under-par!)

But they are never going to have the joy of winning a trophy, I hear you cry! Of course they will. There are plenty of opportunities for junior girls to compete at clubs, in their county and, if they are good enough, alongside their talented peers all around the country. These are the trophies they should aspire to have their names engraved on. Not the Victory Cup for the best medal score playing against seventy-something-year-old club veterans.

Junior girl golfers on fairway

(Image credit: Andy Dow Photography)

As a parent of a 10-year-old who is just about to start marking his first cards for handicap I will definitely be encouraging him to play lots of golf with grown-ups. There are some obvious pros of allowing children and teenagers to play in adult competitions. There’s a lot that can be learned playing alongside older, more experienced golfers, especially the correct etiquette and rules, more so than if you let kids simply tee up with other juniors.

So, what’s the solution? For me it is for junior girls to play as much competitive club golf as they wish, but to only win the club’s junior trophies until they turn 18. While I know that this is a controversial viewpoint and one that many parents of junior girls will be disappointed to read, I believe that the women’s section trophies (with the exception of the club championship, which should be open to every age to crown the ‘best player’) should only be won by the women (those over 18).

It will be interesting to see how many clubs are taking this stance and how many have actually gone the opposite way and allowed junior girls to win as much silverware as they like. It’s certainly a tricky decision, so do let us know your thoughts.

Carly Frost
Golf Monthly Contributor

Carly Frost is one of the golf industry’s best-known female writers, having worked for golf magazines for over 20 years. As a consistent three-handicapper who plays competitive club golf at Parkstone and the Isle of Purbeck courses in Dorset every week, Carly is well-versed in what lady golfers love. Her passion for golf and skill at writing combine to give her an unbeatable insight into the ladies game.  

Carly’s role at Golf Monthly is to help deliver thorough and accurate ladies equipment reviews, buying advice and comparisons to help you find exactly what you are looking for. So whether it’s the latest driver, set of irons, golf ball, pair of shoes or even an outfit, Carly will help you decide what to buy. Over the years Carly has been fortunate to play some of the greatest courses in the world. Her view ‘from the ladies tee’ is invaluable. She ranks Sea Island, Georgia, USA, where she met her husband, world-renowned golf coach Dan Frost, among her favourite golf resorts. Their aptly-named eight-year-old son Hogan is already hitting the ball as far as Mum and will undoubtedly be a name to watch out for in the future. Carly is a keen competitor and her list of golfing achievements are vast. She is a former winner of the South West of England Ladies Intermediate Championship, a three-time winner of the European Media Masters and she once beat an entire start-sheet of men to the title of Times Corporate World Golf Champion. She has played for both the Dorset and Surrey County Ladies first teams and is known for her excellent track record at matchplay.

Carly holds the ladies course record (68) at her home club Parkstone and her lowest competition round (seven-under-par 65) was carded in the pro-am of the Irish Ladies Open at Killeen Castle, playing alongside Solheim Cup superstar Anna Nordqvist. Although her current handicap index has crept up to 3.7 since Covid she has her sights firmly set on achieving that elusive scratch handicap and hopefully playing for her country when she’s 50.

Carly’s current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: Callaway Epic Max, 10.5° 

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM2, 15° 

Hybrids: Titleist TS2, 19°, 21°, 24° 

Irons: Mizuno JPX900, 5-PW 

Wedges: Cleveland RTX, 52°, 56° and 58° 

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5

Ball: 2021 Callaway Ladies SuperSoft