Alfie Burnett - the six-year-old golf sensation from Haslingden
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 February 2014
A six year old from Haslingden is on course to be a star, writes Paul Mackenzie
He may only be little but Alfie Burnett is a real big hitter. The six-year-old from Haslingden got in to the swing of golf straight away and, just a couple of years after he first picked up a club, he is one of the best in the world for his age.
He has already won some awards and has represented Britain but his next target is simple – to have more trophies than his big sister. Molly has a bit of a head start though, at 10 she already has scores of horse jumping trophies. Alfie said: ‘I like winning trophies, that’s one of the best things about playing golf and I definitely want more than my sister has.’
The young golfer’s other burning ambition is to become a professional and dad Paul, a bricklayer who hadn’t played a round until his son showed such promise, said: ‘Ever since he started playing he’s said he wants to be a pro.
‘We’re not putting any pressure on him, we just want him to enjoy playing and to have fun but it’s incredible how he has taken to the sport.
‘Alfie’s uncle Wayne plays and we were at his house for a barbecue when Alfie picked up one of his clubs. Alfie had little plastic clubs but this was the first time he’d held a proper club and Wayne said he had a really good swing.
‘We took him along to the Golf Rossendale driving range and they agreed that he looked good. They were shocked when I told them I didn’t play and Alfie didn’t watch golf on television. He just has a natural ability.’
That innate talent helped him win through to last year’s Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego and he has now qualified for the young European team which will face the Americans in East Lothian in May.
The Haslingden County Primary School pupil will celebrate his seventh birthday later this month. And despite his successes and the fact he can hit a drive 195 yards, he doesn’t find everything about the sport easy. ‘The hardest thing is listening to what my coach says and doing it on the course,’ he said.
That coach is Mike Bardi at Golf Rossendale, who has been helping Alfie for two years. He said: ‘I have been coaching for quite a few years and I have never seen another six year old with the natural talent Alfie has. He has got something very special which doesn’t come along very often.
‘He has a lot of potential and I have high hopes for him if he sticks with golf. But the main thing for me at the moment is to try to ensure that he keeps enjoying playing, that’s the main thing. I don’t want, and I know his parents don’t either, to put a load of pressure on him and take away the enjoyment.
‘His ability is very impressive and so is his attitude. He’s golf mad and he loves playing and improving but because he’s so young it’s impossible to say how good he could be.’
And dad Paul added: ‘He is dedicated and determined and he obviously had some natural talent and hopefully other children will see what Alfie has done and will realise that they can have a go at golf as well.
‘Because he’s playing all over the place it can be quite expensive but we are just a normal family, we haven’t got a lot of money. If it wasn’t for Alfie’s sponsors we wouldn’t have been able to go to America last year. A lot of people have helped, such as the Rossendale Lions who raised £250 for him.’
Alfie’s success has prompted Paul to have a go as well. ‘I’m having some lessons and I’m quite enjoying it,’ he said. ‘Because of his age I need to be out on the course with him so it makes sense for me to play, not just be caddying for him. He always beats me though, I have a lot to learn.’