An up-and-coming Northumberland golfer has continued her success despite a challenging 12 months.

Fifteen-year-old Zara Naughton, a golfer at Matfen Hall, is one of the country’s leading junior golfers and has regularly competed against - and beaten - rivals both older and more experienced than her in recent seasons.

The last year has seen her continue to perform incredibly well despite the ongoing Covid pandemic after adapting how she trains, practices and travels to events around the country.

“I just thought what’s the point in giving up when the first lockdown happened,” explained Zara.

“I told myself one day we’ll all get back to ‘normal’, so I wanted to make sure I kept going as well as I could over the last few months.

“Everything I’ve done has been affected. For example, I’ve had to complete all my practice sessions with my coach online via Zoom and me and my family have turned the back garden into a practice area, but I’ve just kept going the whole time.”

As a result of her efforts over the last year, Zara was nominated for the Young People – Personal Performance and Coaching award at the Sport Tynedale Awards by her coach JJ Vallely.

Despite the golfing season last year firstly being delayed due to the lockdown before then being heavily rejigged as a result of the ongoing pandemic, Zara continued to perform strongly in events such as the Nick Faldo National Series - North of England Championship at Slaley Hall and in several Pro Tour events around the country.

Teenager Zara also took a stunning victory at the Junior European Open in Spain at the end of 2019 - an event that has seen several players including former Ladies British Open champion Georgia Hall and Solheim Cup player Bronte Law compete at in the past.

“We’re all really proud of her and have been really impressed how she’s kept focused,” added Zara’s mum Victoria.

“When the season did start last year, we could all she was ready and eager to get going.

“I think something she’s really improved on is her strength and conditioning with the extra time she’s had lately. I think it’s helped that she’s been able to focus purely on her golf too - in the past she’s been involved in lots of different sports.”