Does the next Rory McIlroy live in Bristol? Don’t bet against it.
Six-year-old Mangotsfield School pupil Jaxson Perry has displayed a prodigious natural talent on golf courses all over the world since first picking up a club on a family holiday. A 27-handicap junior member at The Kendleshire, Jaxson has proved a big hit in the national press and on YouTube, and last August flew home from the US Kids 2016 World Golf Finals in North Carolina with three trophies carefully stored in his luggage.
Jaxson says: “In July, I will have been playing for three years. My dad and grandad just taught me what to do in the beginning and I just loved to practice after that. I just liked hitting the ball first of all and doing crazy shots having fun.
On the very first course I ever played, I could not even reach the ninth hole (207-yard par three) with two wood shots, but now it’s a driver and a sand wedge. The furthest I’ve hit a driver is 181 yards at The Kendleshire – maybe downwind a little ha, ha! The good thing is, I hit it a good distance and even the bad shots are almost always pretty straight.
Last year was a great year for me, with a top five finish at the European Finals (joint top-placed UK player with friend, Aiden), third place in the British and then my best results were becoming world champion (Team Pairs eight and under with friend Lev) and fourth place at the Worlds individual event (six and under). To be fourth in the world from the 83 entries made me really proud and happy. One day, I would like to win something on the PGA or European Tour.”
Dad (and caddy) Andrew says: "You say to people that Jaxson plays golf and they say ‘that’s cute’, thinking it is pitch and putt. Then they watch YouTube or see him play on the course and can’t believe it.
Jaxson improved very, very quickly over the initial six to nine months after first picking up a club and the pros at Bristol Golf Centre were so good to support his love of the game. In April 2015 I took him to the Thornbury par three and he played in a junior event being held the same day. Aside from one horrid hole, he played great and came in fourth in the seven and under category, despite being just five. He played the next four events and won all of them.
What followed over the next 12 months amazed myself and Jaxson’s mother and, after the World Finals in 2016, things really went wild. It is hard to keep a six-year-old’s attention for 40 minutes, let alone the four hours it takes to get around a golf course. Jaxson the child turns into Jaxson the golfer when he steps onto the golf course, be it for practice or play. It’s like he flicks a switch. It is a 6,500-yard par 70 at The Kendleshire and his best score is 90, which is better than some adults manage.
He plays only exactly when he wants to and hugely enjoys other sports with his key other passion being football (with his local Mangotsfield FC and the Bristol City and Southampton Academies). We don’t want to overcoach him and he just has a check-in with the pro, Tom [Gillespie], at The Kendleshire every 12 weeks or so. His swing is very natural and it’s fortunate for him that he’s done it since he saw my father, who is 73 and still plays single-figure golf
Putting him against his peers who are a similar standard in big tournaments is key, but we often need to travel long distances to these events. He is in his element when there are a lot of people watching, that’s when he steps up, but last year we spent around £5,000 in getting him to tournaments and for us that was a huge thing to do. While we knew Jaxson was good, we weren’t sure how good until he played with the best in the world. At that stage, it was clear that it is very, very special.”
Main achievements: 2016 Three trophies at the US Kids World Golf Finals in North Carolina (8&U pairs world champion, 7&U putting champion and fourth place (best European)), fifth place at
the US Kids European Finals (joint-top placed UK player), third place in the Wee Wonders 6&U (British Championships), eight first places in local, European and British Junior Tour events; 2015 Third place in the Wee Wonders 6&U (British Championships), seven first places in local, European and
British Junior Tour events.
For more details and footage, see www.jaxsonperry.com