Back home again

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HAVE clubs will travel!

That is definitely the motto for globe-trotting St Annes Old Links golfer Andrew McLoughney, who makes his debut in the Lytham Trophy next week.

He is only 25, and yet he has played golf in four different continents already.

McLoughney said: “I don’t think there are many people at the age of 25 who can say that!”

McLoughney is back on English soil – at least for a while anyway – and is savouring his Lytham debut in a high-quality field that has attracted golfers from all over the globe as well as the elite from the home nations.

He said: “Royal Lytham is a spectacular course.

“Even though I have played golf in four continents, I don’t think there is anywhere that can get even close to it.

“It is phenomenal and it’s very exciting to get the chance to play in something like the Lytham Trophy.”

It will be belated first appearance in the competition for McLoughney, who plays off a handicap fractionally short of plus-two.

That is mainly because his commitments abroad have never fitted in with the timing of the Lytham Trophy, and this is his first opportunity.

McLoughney accepted an offer to study on a scholarship in North Carolina in the United States, and he later moved on to Florida to continue to continue his golfing education, working for a time at the Old Memorial, an exclusive club based in Tampa.

While there, he played on the Moonlight Tour and also did some caddy work.

He then had a couple of years in Australia, basing himself at Kingswood Golf Club in Melbourne and also competing with success in the Victoria Golf Association Pennant competition.

For a time, he was unbeaten, but then he had a spell out of the game, recovering from a broken hand sustained when he accidentally took a fall on some slippy ground while leaving his rented house.

Later, McLoughney got a further stamp on his passport while working in Thailand.

He said: “I will probably turn professional this year and go on the European Tour qualifying school.

“After that, the plan is to go back to Thailand to try and get on one or the other of Asian Tours.”

In the Lytham Trophy, McLoughney finds himself in a three-ball with Andrew Cooley, of Chobham, and Steven Rennie, of Drumpellier.

McLoughney was a contemporary at Arnold School of Oli Brennand and Sam Beaumont, two cornerstones of the successful Fylde rugby club first team.

He said: “I used to play rugby myself and it is fantastic to see both Oli and Sam doing so well with Fylde.”

*ANOTHER player looking forward to his Lytham Trophy debut is Scott Gowland, of Blackpool North Shore

But it could be one of the last competitions as an amateur.

The plus-two handicapper, who has so far missed out on representation for Lancashire, has designs on a career as a professional, joining the paid ranks some time this year.

The 22-year-old is a former Fylde amateur champion and he has been partnered in the first round at Royal Lytham by Richie Blundell (Hillside) and Richard Prophet (Sandwell Park)

Gowland said: “I am thinking of turning professional, possibly some time this year.

“I will try for some of the smaller events and maybe go for my EuroPro Tour card next year.”

Gowland is coached by Andrew Richardson, head professional at North Shore.

The Lytham Trophy gets under way on Friday week. It will take place over four rounds.

There is a cut at the half-way stage, with the top players competing over 36 holes on the concluding day, May 1.