Photo by Don Gato

Sheehan doing it for the kids

IN real terms, it wasn't that many years ago that Paul Sheehan was playing as a junior golfer in Coffs Harbour.

With dreams that he'd one day make it as a pro golfer, Sheehan would practice at Coffs Harbour, Bonville, Sawtell or Bellingen.

Now that he's a member of the Japanese, European and Australasian tours, the 31-year-old is back in Coffs Harbour this week to help out the local juniors with any words of advice that they may want.

While happy to catch up with friends in the few days that he's in Coffs Harbour, Sheehan says that the main reason for the flying visit to his former home town while he's in between tournaments is to offer support to junior golfers in the region.

"We're having a clinic on Friday and it was basically trying to organise a time when I could come up here and meet the kids."

"The whole reason for me coming up here was to catch up with the juniors and start to try and help them in any way, shape or form," he said.

One of the main initiatives that is being introduced with Sheehan's increased involvement with local juniors is an annual junior tournament that is starting in October this year.

The Paul Sheehan Junior Masters offers the winner a genuine benefit and a chance to display their talents on a bigger stage.

In collaboration with Sheehan and major sponsors of the new tournament, TaylorMade and Titleist, the best gross scoring player in the Junior Masters will have the exciting opportunity of taking part in the Pro-Am event preceding the Australian Masters at the famed Huntingdale layout.

Fellow pro Aaron Baddeley has also donated two spots in the qualifying event of the Aaron Baddeley Australian Junior Championship.

"We're going to start off with this junior tournament and I just want to give kids the opportunities with golf," Sheehan said.

"If they need any more help in that sense hopefully I can help them along the way with the experience that I've had."

Sheehan says that it was playing in events similar to the tournament that now bears his name when he was a junior that helped decide that his future laid with golf.

"For me, my experience growing up here was getting to play in junior tournaments and getting a taste of playing in bigger tournaments and that's how my hunger for the game and competing grew," he said.

"For juniors in the region to get a taste of playing, one it's a great opportunity, two they get to see where their peers are at and what they have to do to become better and then you see some of the spoils like coming to play in the Australian Masters Pro-am and getting to see all the guys that they watch on television and see how they do it."

Great benefits for the winner but Sheehan warns that making it as a pro is a tough gig.

"You need to look at the numbers, it's very hard to make it as a golfer in Australia because of the market place," he said.

"You have to travel overseas because we don't have the corporate dollars here and the tournaments to facilitate a major tour.

"Then you look at the numbers that actually do well and the kids that play golf and want to be golf professionals, it's a small number.

"It's like anything though, if you want something bad enough, you can do it."

While he would love to stay in town for longer than a few days, Sheehan admitted that life has been pretty hectic lately.

"I just got back from Japan on Monday," he said.

"I played three tournaments there and before that I was home for a week and I played three tournaments before that so I've played about six in the last eight weeks."

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