How old were you when you first started practicing a sport? Do you feel that age has a strong impact on how well you may perform throughout the years? There have been a number of studies conducted recently that demonstrate a correlation between beginning a sport at an early age and achieving outstanding results.
Only a handful of golfers at the Wentworth Falls Country Club have become members under the age of 10 and have obtained international recognition. One of the most remarkable is Edwina Kennedy. Edwina’s golfing career starts at the age of 7 and progresses rapidly reaching sensational results in Amateur golf that have yet to be beaten to this day.
Practicing a sport at a young age
Often young children start a sport because of their geographic location, because it is practiced in school or because their parents follow or practice that sport. More often than not, sports are practiced recreationally up until an adolescent age and then other factors take over and the young individual might lose interest.
The first element to take into account when assessing sports for a child is talent. But how do you determine whether someone has a talent for a sport, especially when very young? This can be challenging to say the least but it often evolves from a strong passion for a sport. Many studies suggest that parents should expose their children to various sports and allow them to choose rather than imposing one sport. If you grew up in Australia you most likely played rugby, cricket or soccer when growing up but what if you have a talent for horseback riding and have never been on a horse? Exposing the child to a number of different sports to be able to gauge whether there is a specific talent is therefore crucial.
Some schools of thought maintain that perseverance is the most important element of all and that as long as you stick to a sport for long enough you will succeed. This can be applied to everything in llfe, not only sports, as if someone is dedicated and enthusiastic about something they will eventually achieve recognition. Professional athletes in fact train for hours on end to improve and hone their skills to the nth degree. Not only their skill but also their physical condition must be pristine in order for them to run faster, jump higher or hit the ball farther than their opponent. Being focused and wanting to succeed as an athlete helps in sticking to a sport but not everyone has this strong mental preparation.
Another key element for success in sport is the environment you grow up in. If you grow up in the Snowy Mountains you are more likely to go skiing rather than playing baseball as a child. Similarly if you are surrounded by golf courses you are more likely to give the game of golf a go.
Edwina Kennedy is an individual who had all three of these key elements.
Edwina’s first golf club was a cut down hickory shafted “jigger” given to her by her grandmother. During the Wentworth Falls Country Club Centenary celebrations, Edwina Kennedy was elected guest of Honour and during her speech she mentioned how the wooden golf club her grandmother gave her for her 2nd birthday triggered an interest in the game of golf. Furthermore, Edwina had a strong relationship with her grandmother who lived in Wentworth Falls and whom she visited often.
Edwina truly enjoyed visiting her grandmother and playing golf in Wentworth Falls although there weren’t many young female golfers when she decided to do so. She commenced her competitive involvement in golf at age 7 when she first joined WFCC. She used a variety of second hand clubs, and received one new golf club each birthday and Christmas. She gradually built up her set, not owning a fully matched set of clubs until she was 11 and nearly a single figure marker! One of the peculiar incidents she vividly recalls from her early stages of golf at WFCC was being reprimanded by a woman member while playing golf as there weren’t many young golfers and golf was not a game typically played by young women. But she adds that both men and women members were very friendly, extremely supportive of her golf and encouraged her greatly.
She carded under 100 at age 8. She competed in a number of Junior and Schoolgirl Championships from the age of 7 and reached a handicap of 18 at the age of 10. At 16 she won the Australian Foursomes Championships with Sue Goldsmith. She proceeded to win the Australian Junior championships 4 years in a row, 1976 to 1979.
Edwina believes that she benefitted in many ways from playing a number of sports, especially team sports, before she began to focus solely on golf after leaving school and commencing university studies. She strongly recommends this to aspiring athletes who want to maintain a balanced perspective and a rounded approach to life.
In 1978, on her 19th birthday, Edwina Kennedy became the first Australian in win the British Women’s Amateur Championship. Her most memorable achievement was being a member of the first Australian team, with Lindy Goggin and Jane Lock, to win the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships in Fiji in 1978.
In 1979 she became the first woman to compete in the Australian universities team championship winning each of her matches from the men’s tees. Today, the Edwina Kennedy Trophy for women’s individual stroke play is awarded regularly at the Australian University Championship for golf.
In 1980 she won the Canadian Amateur Championship and in 1985 the New Zealand Amateur Championship. She won the Australian Amateur Championship in 1986 and was losing finalist in 1979, 1984 and 1991. She represented Australia more than 30 times in 20 countries between 1977 and 1991. She was a member of the Australian team that won the 1983 Commonwealth Tournament, the Queen Sirikit Cup Asian Teams Championship in 1982, 1983, 1986.
Edwina also won the New South Wales Championships in 1979, 1984, 1985 and 1986 and represented NSW from 1977 to 1993, winning 10 times.
Edwina received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to golf in 1985. She retired from competitive golf in 1993. She married Vaughan Kirkby in 1988 and they have two children, Jack, 19 and Anna, 17.
“Work hard to achieve your dreams but remember that life is much more than winning”.
Edwina Kennedy is the perfect example of an individual who recognised their talent for a sport at an early age and with hard work and perseverance managed to achieve outstanding results. She remains to this day one of the most inspiring and successful athletes the Wentworth Falls Country Club has had the pleasure to witness.
We encourage young readers and adults with young children to share their experiences and points of view on starting a sport at a young age. The Wentworth Falls Country Club supports young players and looks forward to welcoming the new golfing generation of the future.