Why offering free golf to children works

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 14, 2019 09:50

There are two proven ways to benefit a golf club and children – offer free golf to them and raise awareness that you’re offering them free golf. James Bargeron reports.

I’ve recently been reading a number of articles on golf clubs struggling with membership declines and some are even having to close. Something no one wants to see.

One of the areas I believe is vital to keeping a golf club alive is the junior side. Not from a financial point of view but for building the foundations for the future – both for the club and the youngsters themselves.

So, how do we get more juniors involved at a time when computer and phone games and the tech world is taking over more than ever? Raising awareness is the key.

I hadn’t started playing golf when I was at school, not out of choice but more out of lack of awareness. I’m sure back then money would have been an issue, as I had two brothers who also played sports and it would have tested most families to have one child join a golf club, let alone three!

However, our school had an arrangement with the local golf club, that students could play for free, but for some reason we didn’t know anything about it, otherwise we would have jumped at the chance. Especially during the long summer holidays and the late summer evenings.

How many golf clubs have such an arrangement in place and how could we get more junior golfers involved?

Offering local schools free memberships to all those that want to learn to play the game and, in order for them to play during the holidays, they would have to attend a group of sessions at each club once a week after school during the week or, if it fits, a Saturday morning.

Each junior would learn not just about how the game is played, the rules and the etiquette, but also a set of core values and life lessons that are linked with golf, such as honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, trust and so on, before they move to a higher level and are allowed out onto the golf course.

Helping to instill these values as they progress into adulthood would, I’m sure, be welcomed by parents when they understand the benefits for their kids, especially for those whose immediate thoughts are ‘golf is an expensive sport’.

Dad and son on golf course

My local golf club, and I’m sure there are others, is working with local schools to help promote awareness of the game and the summer camps they offer, which is great.

I’m sure people know of golf clubs in their area, but not many have an idea of exactly what they offer for the local kids.

It will never be perfect, the more we raise awareness with the power of social media as well as the personal side, I’m sure it can help bring more juniors into the game and local clubs.

James Bargeron is a performance coach for golfers both on and off the course. For more information, visit www.Golfing-Minds.com


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 14, 2019 09:50
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  1. Matt Orwin April 23, 09:24

    Whilst in principle I think you’re right, in practice I’m not so sure it’s that straightforward.

    When junior lessons are offered for free, there’s no commitment on the parents behalf. As such, participation may be good for a short period of time but soon dwindles.

    I think that’s a lot to do with the sport itself and how, even using a games-based approach to learning, it’s difficult. We should think of junior golf lessons like swimming. You don’t see your local leisure centre offering free ‘get into swimming’ lessons. Why? Because they know that one lesson will get you nowhere. You need a series of lessons to start making progress. You need to commit to it for an extended period of time. And when you start making progress, committing to it thereafter is a lot easier (for parent and for child).

    Truth is we get carried away in golf with lots of people attending free lessons, but we should be focusing on how many continue golf when the free lessons dry up – and they eventually all dry up. The industry doesn’t need group junior coaching sessions attended by 30 kids for free when only a couple continue the sport. It’d much rather have 10 kids attending paid-for lessons, committing to a block of them and 5 continuing the sport thereafter.

    In addition, junior golf coaching is very often given to Assistant Golf professionals and the less experienced, younger coaching staff at golf clubs. Let’s be pragmatic here – how motivated are they going to be to offer a good experience when they’re not getting paid anything? I applaud those that are willing to give their time for free for junior coaching. It’s nice they have the personal financial stability to do so. Unfortunately, many (if not most) are not in that position.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Tim April 15, 14:11

    Just a shame that the England Golf still expect there affiliation fees for juniors from clubs even if they are only young and get free membership and just starting…..

    Reply to this comment
  3. Paul April 14, 19:19

    Here at SharpShooters, giving free golf lessons to new children is a huge part of what we offer to the local communities at our 3 venues!
    Please feel free to contact me to find out more!
    Paul Ring

    Reply to this comment
  4. Cynthia April 14, 10:13

    The parents will join, when the kid falls in love with the sport! Its a win win for every department from Membership to F&B!

    Reply to this comment
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