HYNDBURN’S Nathan Dunn might only be 18, but already he is one of Lancashire’s hottest golfing talents and is looking forward to his first full season as a professional.
The Clayton-Le-Moors teenager, a former Junior Captain at Great Harwood Golf Club, turned professional in September 2008 after reaching a Scratch handicap while at Clitheroe Golf Club.
Now attached to Lee Valley Driving Range in Great Harwood, along with fellow professionals Mark Ashworth and James Webster, Dunn sees the Open Championship regional qualifier on June 24 at Pleasington as his biggest day of 2009.
He said: "I've never played in an Open Qualifier but Pleasington is a course that I like and I’m confident I can do well there.
"I’m not going to go there just wanting to enjoy the experience, I want to go there and get through."
Dunn's last competitive experience at Pleasington was one he will remember fondly. In 2007 he reached the quarter-finals of the Harold Ryden Trophy there, after finishing as top qualifier over 36 holes of the prestigious East Lancashire event.
He would eventually go out to the vastly experienced Craig Fort in a high-quality last eight match, but it was a sign of things to come.
The impressive factor in Dunn’s story is that he only started playing golf in 2001, when his father Clive introduced him to the game.
Dunn Snr, now a five handicapper, took up the game after calling time on a successful semi-professional football career, which included several trips to Wembley with Colne Dynamoes.
The role that his parents have played in his development as a golfer is not lost on Dunn. Nathan said: "Both my parents have been a fantastic support to me, dad has spent so much time out on the golf course with me over the years, especially when I was just starting out.
"Not only have they taken me to competitions all over the county, but they’ve spent a lot of money to help me maximise every opportunity that has come my way."
By the summer of 2004 the former Norden High School student was playing off a single figure handicap and was selected to represent East Lancashire at Under-18 level.
In 2007, Dunn claimed arguably his biggest trophy to date. He won Great Harwood Golf Club’s Scratch prize, beating the club’s best players to a title won on an amazing 20 occasions by the club’s greatest ever player Gary Hindle.
However, with a series of professional events coming up, the ambitious teenager has his eyes set on much bigger prizes these days.
He said "I definitely want to win something in 2009.
"As well as the Open qualifier, I have various pro-am’s that I plan to play in and there is the possibility of playing several Northern Order of Merit events.
"I’ve not won anything all that big yet but I know that once I get my first serious victory I’m going to kick on and get more and more."
Dunn, not 19 until August, is currently a PGA Trainee, working towards his full PGA Professional status, but is sure that his future lies on the course.
"I started my PGA work in September, it varies from retail and sponsorship assignments to case studies on marketing and the actual mechanics of the golf swing.
"As much as I enjoy learning about all aspects of the game, I have no doubt that all I want to do in the future is to play and try to earn a living that way."
Nathan has recently been helped by a sponsorship deal from UK Multi Sports Academy based in Church.