Berry bursts into the big time
Doncaster Golf Club’s very own Boy Wonder joined the big boys, big time, when he became the second youngest ever full European Tour member, after Rory McIlroy.
Josh Berry, just 18, survived the rigours of three Q School ordeals before cementing his place on the DP World Tour with a nerveless six rounds of Final Qualifying in Spain. He was the only amateur to earn a card.
As such it’s fitting that a date with the Northern Irish superstar would figure large in his daydreams.
“Stepping out with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods at The Open would be the ultimate dream,” he told England Golf after sealing his place.
He said: “It means everything to me to qualify, as I’ve been playing competitively and practising every day for the past nine years. It’s a dream come true.”
Josh first picked up a club as a 9-year-old – and he’s rarely had one out of his hand a single day since.
Success wasn’t a long time coming – he made a name for himself winning the Wee Wonders Championship at St Andrews, which earned him a place at the World Wee Wonders Championship at Pinehurst in North Carolina.
A spot in the Yorkshire Regional Squad and following that England Boys quickly followed.
England Men’s Performance Manager Steve Burnett said: “We don’t have many youngsters at 12 years of age making the squads. Josh was far more developed physically and ahead of play- ers much older than him.”
He made the England Boys’ squad at 15 and by 16 was named in the England Men’s squad, where he has been over the past two years.
During his time with England, he won the Boys’ and Girls’ Home Internationals in 2021, winning all four of his matches, having initially only been selected as first reserve.
He then played in the Men’s Home Internationals in 2022 at 17, helping his country win as he took on Walker Cup hopefuls, and he helped the Boys and Girls win the Home Internationals again this year at Lindrick.
To add to that, he picked up a silver medal at the 2022 European Boys’ Team Championships in Germany and played in the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan earlier this year, where England finished in the top-five. There have also been squad omissions, but Josh credits such setbacks with the success he’s had: “You get out what you put in. My dad says to me a lot: “The harder you work, the luckier you get,” and that’s something I think about a lot.
“Not getting picked in certain England squads, and others being better than you in the team, it spurs you on to want to get better. It’s such a competitive game and you can always do better.
“I’ve always worked hard but when you’re not picked, you’re almost playing with a chip on your shoulder which is good as it makes you want to prove yourself.
“Everyone at England Golf did a massive job in helping my progression, including coaches Steve Burnett, Gareth Jenkins, Rob Watts, Nick Soto, Graham Walker, Andrew Cruickshank (psychologist), Dan Coughlan (fitness) and Paul Ashwell – there’s too many to thank for helping them get me to where I am today.”
His early career highlights included winning the Yorkshire Amateur in 2021, while in 2023 he reached the semi-finals of the English Men’s Amateur Championship and came 3rd at the North of England Open Amateur Championship, plus playing for England against Spain. But he admitted he was always looking forward to the DP World Tour’s Q School.
He said: “It’s the first year I’ve done it. I entered the first stage just like anyone else does and not thinking about getting any sort of card on Tour, but just to get through the first stage would’ve been good ... and I managed to do that at Donington Grove (Reading), finishing tied-13th.”
Stage 2 took place at Fontanals in Spain, and it was after this that he really started to fancy his chances.“It was cold and windy weather at Fontanals. Lots of people were moaning about the weather, but from being up north, I used that to my advantage! I played well and finished 2nd there. It was then that I thought if I can produce a good tournament in the final stage, then perhaps I could make it after all.”
Final stages were at Infinitum Golf in Spain, which included a strong field of players with a lot of seasoned pros trying to win their full privileges back.
Josh continued: “The final stage – it’s a very high-standard field and it’s six rounds of golf, so you’ve got to play really well. It’s a lot of golf! I knew I was playing well going into it and that continued into the final stage, and I got off to a good start.
“I had some nerves heading into the final round but it was more excitement. I think the fact that I love golf was more the reason why I got through. Rather than thinking too much about the outcome, I was just taking it one shot at a time and enjoying what I was doing.”
"I’m not getting ahead of myself as it doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just a stepping stone to where I want to be in the future.
“As a kid, you always want to be the best player in the world. I don’t think about that everyday, but of course, playing on the PGA Tour and playing in the Ryder Cup, those are my long-term goals.”
It was an incredible achievement for Berry, finishing tied-17th. But he admitted there wasn’t much chance for a celebration!
He revealed: “The first thing I did was hug my caddy after the putt went in, then I rang my parents and people close to me – but after I finished, I pretty much went straight to the first DP World Tour event in South Africa, so I didn’t have time to go home and celebrate!”
The decision proved to be the right one. Despite missing the cut in his very first outing on the DP World Tour at the Joburg Open, he made the cut with a respectable tied-56th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Leopard Creek – netting him 5,025 euros.
To put his achievement into perspective, it took Ryder Cup star Justin Rose 22 outings as a pro before he finally made a cut. For Berry it was just two. And he admitted: “It was amazing to do so well at Leopard Creek.
Berry didn’t have the same fortune at his third event – the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, after missing the cut, but he knows he will come back stronger from the experience. He explained: “I had three weeks in South Africa before one week in Mauritius. It’s been an amazing experience getting used to different golf courses and different altitudes. I can’t wait to travel to different places and see new golf courses.
“I’ve found the quality of courses to be similar, but the big difference so far has been the calibre of players. I recently played a round with Jamie Donaldson, he was great to play with, very humble, and I learnt a lot from him.
“For me now, it’s all about trying to get results, win money and earn points. The target this year is to try and finish in the top 50 and get into the Race to Dubai finals. Clearly that’s a big goal but that’s where I think I’ve got to aim.”
His next Tour event is expected to be the Ras Al Khaimah Championship in the UAE between January 25-28.