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Golf: New club pro takes dad's job; Stuart following in Pilkington tradition.

Byline: Trevor Peake

STUART PILKINGTON has settled into the job of club professional at Pwllheli after taking over from his father,John,ear-lier this year. ``Dad decided he wanted to concentrate on coaching on the European Tour and the club offered me the job, so I jumped at the chance,'' said the 24-year-old, who is 16 months younger than his brother Mark, a regular on the European Tour for the past few years.

Stuart, who runs the busy Pwllheli shop with the help of his mother, Glen,has been around golf all his life as his Liverpool-born dad was club pro at Nefyn, where the family lives, before he took over at Pwllheli three years ago.

``I took up the game when I was about 10 but didn't really get interested until I was about 14 or 15 when we opened the driving range,and I eventually got down to scratch.

``I went to college after GCSEs, studying business,geography and maths, but decided I fancied a career in golf so went with dad doing the PGA assistant's scheme for a new diploma and qualified as a club professional,'' said Stuart.

``I enjoy teaching and the life of the club professional suits me.''

Fortunately,at about the same time Stuart decided on a career in golf, former Welsh amateur champion Mark got on tour and John Pilkington spent months away helping his elder son find his feet.

``I have been away with Mark a lot in recent years and I decided I liked the life, so decided to go coaching full time,'' said John, who has helped Welsh Ryder Cup star Phil Price with his game in the past.

As well as Mark,he is helping tour newcomers Lee James and Simon Wakefield in their efforts to establish a foothold on tour.

James, the 30-year-old winner of the Amateur Championship in 1994, finally won his tour card last year by topping the order of merit in the subsidiary European Challenge Tour.

He won three times to gain his card automatically,having failed on seven visits to the tour school since he turned professional in 1995.

Wakefield, who shot a course record 61 at North Foreland in final qualifying for the Open Championship at Royal St George's last month,also graduated from the Challenge Tour last year.

He finished in ninth place in the order with one victory and three other top-10 finishes.

The 29-year-old from Newcastleunder-Lyme turned pro in 1997, the year he made the first of five trips to the tour school.

He won his card in 1999 but failed to retain it when he managed to win only pounds 14,000 from 18 events the following year and finished 196th in the order of merit.

``It's early days yet but hopefully we're starting to see some improvement in their games,'' saidJohn.

CAPTION(S):

Stuart Pilkington, who has succeeded his father,John,as the club professional at Pwllheli and (inset),his brother Mark
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2003
Words:494
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