YORK and Harrogate Unions have taken the first step towards providing junior girl golfers with a new platform on which to test their games.
The first inter-union mixed junior match took place at Bedale GC at the weekend and ended in a thrilling 3-3 tie after Harrogate clawed their way back from 3-0 down.
The outcome was secondary to the significance of an event that will be held annually with the backing of York printing company, Reprotech.
Outgoing York Union president Martin Greaves explained: "It was the joint initiative of both unions - Harrogate and York - to try to do something for the junior girls and give them the chance to experience inter-union golf.
"Girls, at the moment, play at club level and there's nothing in between club and Yorkshire level.
"We obviously had girls who played on Saturday who attend Yorkshire coaching, but that's where the black hole currently exists - they go from club player to Yorkshire coaching and then, if they are good enough, they get into a Yorkshire team at various age group levels.
"But the idea of getting them into a York team or a Harrogate team or a Sheffield team first would be the objective here.
"It would be nice to get them some identity with inter-district union golf."
The match involved 12-player line-ups for each union - six boys and six girls - with boys and girls paired up to play fourball better ball match play.
"Bedale GC, through Harrogate Union president Ian Smith, who is a member there, kindly agreed to stage the first mixed junior match on Saturday," continued Greaves, "and Malton & Norton GC have agreed to stage it next year, around the same time of year.
"It was a bitterly cold day, but the kids themselves all really enjoyed it.
"The average age was 13/14 and we had 12 players from York Union clubs and the same from Harrogate Union clubs.
"The kids thoroughly enjoyed one another's company and the day gave the girls a chance to play at union level for the first time. A 3-3 draw was a fitting result for the first match."
York junior organiser Sian Statters, who works for Reprotech, helped arrange the company's backing.
"The idea is to try tospread the word, get the momentum going and try to get girls more identity within the union arena," said Greaves.
"The boys, if they are good enough, can first of all play in the union junior sides and then make it through to the senior county side, again if they are good enough. The girls don't have that at present."
York and Harrogate are hopeful that the county's six other unions will become involved so that an inter-district competition involving all eight - either mixed or all girls - can be created.
"This has been a great success and we do hope we can get the other unions interested and playing mixed competitions, or even a full side of 12 girls, which would be even better," said Greaves.
"We had Yorkshire (Union of Golf Clubs) president Jonathan Plaxton in attendance during the afternoon so it was good to see him, a Fulford member, there to give it his backing and that was nice for the kids.
"Although he was freezing to death on Saturday afternoon, I think he still thoroughly enjoyed himself."
Harrogate, as hosts, will keep the trophy for the next 12 months following the tie.
Results were as follows:
Lewis Harrison (Harrogate GC, 9 handicap) and Adrianna Martin (Harrogate GC, 10) lost to Lucy Walker (Malton & Norton GC, 20) and Thomas Pyman (Oaks GC, 17)
Harrison Downs (Romanby GC, 9) and Evie Cook (Rudding Park GC, 14) lost to Christina Rumbelow (Malton & Norton GC, 13) and Matthew Dolling (York GC, 19)
Will Sydall (Romanby GC, 9) and Olivia Searle (Pannal GC, 18) lost to Lucy Gallagher (Pike Hills GC, 36) and Nick Brennan (Scarthingwell GC, 18)
Angus Gray (Harrogate GC, 9) and Rachel Seal (Knaresborough GC, 14) beat Emma Audsley (York GC, 12) and Harry Bramley (Scarthingwell GC, 18)
Finlay Power (Otley GC, 13) and *Amelia Smith (Scarcroft GC, 19) beat Beth Norton (Oaks GC, 22) and Nick Audsley (York GC, 16)
Josh Reid (Knaresborough GC, 18) and Alice Revill (Knaresborough GC, 36) beat India Johnson (Fulford GC, 36) and Lewis Stead (Malton & Norton GC, 15)
* guest via Leeds Union