Hannah stays out in the cold as cup is regained
GREAT Britain and Ireland's superb triumph in the Curtis Cup, at Nairn in Scotland last week, was not lost on Hannah Barwood.
Two years ago, the Knowle life member was part of the team that lost in America. Now, she says that an amateur career that took her all over the world is almost certainly over.
Barwood believes that the downward spiral, which started last year when her funding from Sport England was cut by two-thirds, resulted from her declared intention to turn professional.
The reduced financial support meant she could not afford to compete on the broader international stage, despite being named in the preliminary squad for this year's Curtis Cup.
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Her career blossomed in 2005 when she became the youngest winner of the South West Counties Championship at the age of 14 after dominating the local and national schoolgirl scene.
She became a member of the full England team and made a strong impact in national events.
She began to wonder whether her declared intention to become a professional was going against her when she was overlooked for a trip to Argentina for the World Championships in October 2010.
Although she was third in the English Women's Order of Merit with a record superior to the two players who were chosen, she suspected her omission was connected to her professional aspirations.
Worse was to come this year because she was dropped from the Curtis Cup squad. Despite submitting a schedule to the governing body that would have shown total commitment to the amateur game, she was refused all funding.
After last year's limited success, results have improved this year. She was second in the Whittington Salver, sixth in the Hampshire Rose and tied sixth in the English Closed Championship at Royal Birkdale last month. She also well placed in the Scottish and Welsh Opens.
Now 21, she said: "I have been cut off completely in the England set-up, even though I played at the top level for six years since I was 14.
"I appreciate they want to encourage younger players, but I'm sure my professional ambitions have gone against me."
She has been working in a clothes shop at Longwell Green, close to her Hanham home, along with practising at Knowle and at the Windmill Hill Range.
Her handicap is now plus two and she returned to the Gloucestershire county squad to compete in the South West Week, at Trevose in Cornwall.
Last month she tasted life on the pro tour by spending a week at the LET tournament in Germany caddying for her friend Rachel Jennings, who paid her expenses.
"Although Rachel is having a tough time in her second year, this gave me an insight into professional golf," she said.
She is gaining more experience as a member of the fledgling Unite Ladies Pro Tour, based at the Belmont Hotel club near Hereford.
Barwood finished fourth in the opening event at Belmont after rounds of 79 and 81. Prizes of £1,000, £600 and £400 were paid to the first three players, but had she finished in the top three she would have received a voucher rather than cash.
Four further tournaments are scheduled in England and two more in Spain at the end of the season.