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Cheshire star enjoys the American experience

Around the time the buildings on Capitol Hill were being stormed, former Cheshire Boys champion Josh Turnock made his way back from his home in Tytherington to resume a college golf scholarship at the University of Central Arkansas.

Compared to the deathly violence unleashed in Washington DC, 20-year-old Turnock, a member of Prestbury GC, could not have experienced a calmer and better organised atmosphere on his arrival bearing in mind the effects of Covid-19.

Between 100 and 125 young UK golfers take up US college placements every year and his father Matthew, a national award winning coach based at Mottram Hall, said: “The collegiate golf system has in general experienced a highly unsettling time because of the pandemic.

“Some universities have had to cancel their golf programmes altogether and tales are going round of the odd student here and there more or less being left abandoned and more having to try to find other placements.

“But Josh’s university have been highly efficient and proactive all the way through in ensuring everything that could be done has been done to make life as normal as possible for their students and he has been able to carry on playing golf.

“In the second half of 2020 he had two holes in one in less than three months, one at Prestbury and the other at the Conway Club in Arkansas.

Currently a little over halfway through a four-year scholarship and majoring in exercise science, Josh spent his first five days back in quarantine following his flight from Manchester. When Joe Biden took over as president a few days later, quarantine was extended to 14 days.

Josh said: “The best way I can describe it is that while I was back home in England I saw the government television briefings with the health experts showing charts and diagrams and the Covid communications at Central Arkansas are basically similar to that.

“The university has been 100 percent transparent and proactive in keeping all of us fully informed in not only testing us for Covid regularly but ensuring that we have all known the results of all those tests.”

That the former Tytherington High School pupil is in such a caring environment 4,333 miles from home is not down to luck.

His place at Central Arkansas was arranged by Dan Haughian, a sports consultant based in Stockport, Greater Manchester, at a time when Josh was part of the England regional junior coaching squad.

Said dad Matthew: “Although I am blessed with excellent contacts after over a quarter of a century at Mottram Hall, I needed assistance to help Josh get his spot.”

“Dan is an expert at placing youngsters on the US college circuit and it was with his assistance that we secured Josh his scholarship.”

When Josh began the scholarship, Matthew, the 2018 England Golf Coach of the Year, flew with him to the States to spend a few days helping his son start adjusting to life on the other side of the pond.

Said Matthew: “While I was there, we had a meal out with the golf coach Steve Runge and a member of the university’s board of governors, Robert ‘Bunny’ Adcock.”

Robert is a multi millionaire and among his many interests is the Centennial Bank, which has over 250 branches and employs more than 2000 people.

Matthew added: “Of all the jobs and roles Bunny has held in banking, politics, and public service, he says his years as the university men’s and women’s golf coach around the turn of the century were the most rewarding.

“He was paid $1 per year. Robert simply enjoyed watching young people grow from kids to young adults, to see them marry, to have families, start their careers, and enter the world as productive citizens.”

Bunny said: “Josh is a fine kid and we love having him at the University of Central Arkansas. I have just seen the scores for qualifying for our first tournament of the Spring and Josh is in the number one position after five rounds which is quite an accomplishment.

"It is a joy hearing what Josh and his father have had to say. They mention how I enjoyed coaching the golf teams and since I had some wealth, I wasn’t under the pressure most coaches are under. I didn’t have to worry about winning and keeping my job. So, I could be a friend to the players.

"Dan Haughian was at our university, when he went by the name of Daniel. He was in our very first class and became a great player."

Photos & copy courtesy Geoff Garnett