NEW county captain Neil Dawson does not envisage too many changes on the playing front for Hampshire in 2020.
He worked with the likes of Amateur Champions Harry Ellis and Scott Gregory – and Rowlands Castle’s Spanish Amateur Champion Billy McKenzie as colts. But the trio are now all firmly in the pro ranks.
Shanklin’s Jordan Sundborg – the reigning European Universities Champion – and clubmate Conor Richards, who is in the final year of his golf scholarship, in Miami, also played Colts golf for Dawson.
The pair featured alongside Lee-on-the-Solent’s George Saunders, the county’s latest US college export, from Botley.
They are now experienced first-team players and Dawson hopes a familiar voice and management methods will produce similar results to what they achieved in the U23s.
Blackmoor’s Mark Burgess, North Hants’ Matt Wilcox and past county captains Martin Young and Colin Roope will again give Hampshire a massive Mid-Amateur (over 35s) presence.
And with Hayling’s county champion Toby Burden playing the best golf since before he turned pro nearly a decade ago, and Stoneham trio of Owen Grimes, Alex Talbot and Ryan Moody, Dawson is not short on talent or experience.
Neil can also call upon Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson, his successor as colts manager and former England international Darren Wright, one of just 10 players ever to win both England’s Men’s and Boys’ Strokeplay titles.
Dawson said: “I will be relying on the more established members of the team, but I will look to bring in some juniors where possible.
“I will be keeping a very close eye on everyone’s form, as well as players’ suitability for certain types of courses.
“I want to make sure the guys know what is going on in advance – give them a sense they only have to worry about their golf, and I will worry about the rest.
“Last – but no means least – getting the players involved. They will all want different things. They will all prepare in different ways, so I will try and make it work for all – but it may not be possible.”
For the past six years, Dawson has been a member at Fleet’s North Hants club – where Justin Rose blossomed in the mid-1990s.
He caddied for North Hants’ 2017 British Mid-Amateur Champion Matt Wilcox at the English County Finals in Cornwall.
Neil said: “Caddying at Trevose – when Hampshire won the English County Championship for the first time since Justin Rose was in the team as a 16-year-old – was a fantastic experience.
“If I had to choose one goal for 2020, I would say the English County Finals are my priority – but I still put winning the league as a top priority too as county captain.
“This year is a learning curve for me – maybe some changes next year. But I would love to win everything.”
•To see all of Hampshire’s first team fixtures for 2020 click here