Belfast Telegraph

Gemma McMeekin's on course for stardom after winning golf championship aged just 10

Golf star Gemma McMeekin (10)
Golf star Gemma McMeekin (10)
Gemma with her winning trophy
Golf star Gemma with her dad Jonathan and mum Lisa at Massereene Golf Club
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

She's only 10 years old and already she has established herself as a genius on the golf course.

Meet Gemma McMeekin - the schoolgirl who has just won the Girls 9-10 Wee Wonders British Golf Championships in Scotland.

The Antrim Primary School P7 pupil is only the fourth player from Ireland to have won the championship, which was founded in 1995 and counts Olivia Mehaffey and Leona Maguire among its previous winners.

Her proud father Jonathan said his daughter, who is a member of Massereene and Royal Portrush Golf Clubs, did well to come out on top at Longniddry Golf Club in Scotland last weekend.

"Wee Wonders is the leading junior golf tournament within the UK and Ireland," he said.

"There were 18 in Gemma's field (girls aged nine to 10 category) and she won by one shot.

"That tournament automatically qualifies her for the World Championships in America next year, so that's exciting."

The competition, which has different age categories and is split into girls and boys, started in April with 58 regional qualifiers followed by 10 regional finals across the UK and Ireland, culminating in a grand final event played over two days.

Gemma's parents Jonathan (43), an Ulster Hockey employee, and Lisa (41), who works in logistics, were there to see their eldest child secure the prestigious Wee Wonders title.

Their younger son Scott is six and he attends Antrim Primary School with his big sister, who played in the World Championships last year and who has also previously turned her hand at a couple of European Championships as well. It is no surprise to dad Jonathan that his daughter has been making a name for herself on the golfing circuit over the last few years because he knows the source of her sporting prowess.

"Her mum Lisa has played golf for Ulster and I've played hockey for Ulster as well, so that's where she gets it from," he said. "Gemma started playing golf because of Lisa.

"We're a sporting family. She's a good wee hockey player and she's good at athletics too. She's a member of Antrim Hockey Club and she's a member of Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club."

Despite her distinct aptitude and undeniable ability, Gemma will always be able to rely on her dad to keep her grounded. "I've been about sport and played internationally and I know what it's like; you just need to keep working hard and keep focused," Jonathan said. "Growing up she's looked up to her parents. She's seen what Lisa's done in golf - she plays off four - and she's seen what I've done in hockey as well." He added: "Now, though, she looks up to Stephanie Meadow. She walked around with Stephanie recently at Massereene golf course and Stephanie was very good with her afterwards."

When asked about Gemma's future, her dad said they "just take one day at a time".

"In sport a lot of kids get built up to be the next Rory McIlroy but I'll support Gemma whatever she does - whether that's in golf or hockey," he said.

"As long as she's enjoying it, that's the main thing. That's why she's where she's at at the minute.

"I don't think she actually realises how good she is - and that's a good thing."

He added that Gemma "likes to win and she wants to get better" but stressed: "I always say, keep the head down, keep working hard and see where it goes."

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