How to get more children playing golf

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire March 12, 2019 21:57

A number of golfing organisations and clubs are working together to introduce golf to more children. Here, we look at three initiatives that have all been working. 

Case study 1: The National StreetGolf Final at The 3 Hammers Golf Complex 

StreetGolf is junior golf charity Golf Foundation’s entry level golf format for children aged 11 upwards. This growing school and community activity involves a ‘National StreetGolf Championship’ and last summer the final was held at The 3 Hammers Golf Complex.

Some 40 per cent of the finalists were girls, who like the boys, had only recently experienced golf on an actual golf course for the first time after their first golf coaching in the spring.

The junior-friendly Wolverhampton venue was the perfect par-three facility for young players brand new to the sport.

Golf Foundation National Street Golf Finals at 3 Hammers Golf centre, Woverhampton.
Leaderboard Photography

From 10 regions of England, and Wales, 44 youngsters in 11 teams qualified through school events and regional finals, with around 70 selected school golf satellite clubs teeing up this golfing journey at the start of 2018 (18 clubs had a specific girls’ golf focus, while all encouraged girls to take part). These school golf clubs (supported by Sport England funding) are all linked to Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots Centres which welcome young people into the game at club level.

Golf Foundation National Street Golf Finals at 3 Hammers Golf centre, Woverhampton.
Leaderboard Photography

Golf Foundation regional development officer Stacey Mitchell said: “One of the girls told me ‘this is the happiest I’ve ever been playing sport’. She’s only been playing golf a few weeks and she was awesome! I also spoke with the teacher from Baysgarth School in Lincolnshire and learned that while sports such as football and cricket weren’t for his team of boys, they had ‘found their sport’ in golf and had been busy practising at the club ready for the final. Their teacher said they absolutely loved their day at 3 Hammers.”

Golf Foundation National Street Golf Finals at 3 Hammers Golf centre, Woverhampton.
Leaderboard Photography

Case study 2: The Sharpshooter Junior Golf Academy at Golf World Stansted, Essex 

PGA Advanced Professional Paul Ring took up the position of head professional at Golf World Stansted (formerly Elsenham Golf & Leisure) in 2014. Having been a junior golfer himself, Paul arrived with a vision to not only engage in adult coaching – he wanted to raise the bar with junior golf and create an all-inclusive junior academy.

Using a programme he originally conceived at his previous club, Paul, along with Katie Herlock (junior organiser and business partner) relaunched SharpShooters Junior Golf Academy. Upon delivering free golf taster classes to approximately 3,000 school children across the area as well as engaging with local community groups, SharpShooters Academy has successfully grown from 30 children to 300 children in weekly lessons over the course of three years. SharpShooters Golf World Stansted is now delivering 30 classes a week at the club as well as at various local primary schools on a weekly basis.

SharpShooters success is not based solely on delivering golf lessons, but also offers a wide range of golfing activities for juniors of all ages and abilities. In the search for competitions which are suitable for a wide range of juniors, the academy is heavily involved in GolfSixes, Girls Golf Rocks and, off the back of its success, the European Tour Foundation. The academy’s 300 juniors are also invited to play on various junior golf weekends away which adds another revenue stream to the business.

SharpShooters’ success has been acknowledged by a recent four-page article in Golf Monthly, highlighting not only Paul’s passion for the game and a reliable revenue stream for the club and himself, but how this also provides a great networking opportunity for local business sponsors. The reliable revenue stream provided by SharpShooters is because over 600 people come through the doors every week – spending money and their social time at the club. This new engagement provides a steady stream of returning and new golfers for the club and coaches. This has been shown in an increase in membership, lessons, use of the club facilities and events.

The reliable income provided by SharpShooters has been recognised by other clubs which are now using the programme. SharpShooters provides the juniors with structured learning from weekly golf lessons and a ‘SharpShooters Skills’ book and parent-friendly online booking for events. For the professionals, it creates consistent earnings throughout the year due to the monthly payment system and increased footfall for the club.

To summarise, SharpShooters Golf World Stansted is believed to be the fastest growing junior golf academy in the UK – and this is solely down to Paul and Katie’s drive and ambition to grow the game.

For more information, call 07731980272 or email info@sharpshootersgolf.co.uk. The facility is running its next event on March 17 a ‘St Patrick’s day PlayDay’: https://store.sharpshootersgolf.co.uk/collections/all/products/st-patricks-playday-17-03-19

Case study 3: Crown Golf 

Last August the three-man junior teams sent by St Mellion International Resort and Sunbury Golf, both Crown Golf clubs, finished joint second at the 2018 England Golf Champion Club finals at Frilford Heath, losing out only to the winning team from Horsehay Village GC.

Both teams are the product of junior golf programmes at Crown Golf’s 21 venues, which between them have over 1,000 junior members. The head of the company’s group-wide ‘Golf Development Professional [GDP]’ initiative, Rob Spurrier, points to three key factors in their success.

Golf development professional Luke Walker at Sunbury GC. Image by Duncan Soar

“You need a structured plan, skilled coaches, and the right facilities,” he said. “At Crown Golf we have created a new role – GDP – to act not only as the chief introducer to the sport, but also to act as the social glue at the golf club, getting young people as involved as possible. Our GDPs always ask themselves: are we working closely enough with the local community, and the schools in the area? We work with the Golf Foundation and the Junior Golf Passport scheme, and across the group we have implemented the Crown Golf junior golf structure, with the core objective of maximising enjoyment of the game.

“This is further supported by our commitment to family golf, providing complimentary junior memberships with every adult membership, ensuring families can create great golfing memories together in friendly and welcoming golf clubs.”

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire March 12, 2019 21:57
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2 Comments

  1. Mark March 11, 12:33

    England Golf are also working with Priority Counties to produce Junior Priority County Plans to grow the junior market. We have launched our plan in Shropshire and Herefordshire this week, as have our colleagues in Cheshire! These initiatives are designed to be tailored to tackle the problems individual Counties are facing and offer a structure to the activities of the Counties who participate.

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  2. MikeRobson March 11, 15:10

    Best two organisations getting kids into golf are the Stephen Gallacher Foundation and the Paul Lawrie Foundation – certainly in Scotland if not the UK – There’s too few professionals putting anything back into the game that made many of them very well off !

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