A TEENAGE golfing star has experienced the challenges of playing on a professional golf tour over the past couple of weeks.

Zara Naughton, a member jointly at Ponteland and Matfen Hall, has taken part in the 2020 ProTour.

While the tour is predominantly a series of events which encourages male and female professional golfers to compete alongside one another, there is also the capacity for a handful of amateur golfers to gain access to the events.

Zara continues to excel on the golf course and was named the young sportswoman of the year at the 2019 Sport Tynedale Awards.

Highlights from last year included helping England Schools to success over Scotland, on the back of finishing runner-up in the U16 national schools' final and finishing in the top six in the U19 final.

Her great run of form has carried over into 2020 despite lockdown guidelines preventing her from getting on the course for a number of weeks.

She has competed in two events since golf returned earlier this month, the first at Cleckheaton Golf Club and the second at Oulton Hall Golf Club, both in Yorkshire.

Zara has been inspired by playing alongside the likes of Ryder Cup winner Jamie Donaldson, European Tour professional Marcus Armitage, Curtis Cup player Amy Boulden and Sophie Lamb, a European Ladies' Tour Professional.

Zara impressed at Oulton Hall, shooting par around an extended course scoring against the men’s pars, finishing just one shot behind the leading female golfer, Curtis Cup player Amy Boulden.

Boulden had travelled up from Wales to put the best score by a female - and claim a share of the prize money - with a one-under par 69, just four shy of champion Armitage.

For Zara to card 70 as a 14-year-old schoolgirl and England U16 player is quite remarkable, and she certainly caught the eye of all in attendance.

Zara's mother Victoria said: "Zara has thoroughly enjoyed the experience playing alongside the professional players and has learnt a lot."

Zara was thankful to Tynedale Lions for the Excellence in Performance Award she received last year.

The grant from the organisation helped cover travel and entry expenses.