In their own words: Andrew McKinlay

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 30, 2019 22:22

The chief executive of Scottish Golf outlines some of the measures that can be introduced to engage more young people with golf.

Scottish Golf has recently undertaken a series of junior forums across the country, looking at growing interest and ultimately participation among young people.

It has been a rewarding and essential exercise, consulting with member clubs across all areas and counties, to provide a more consistent approach to making golf a more appealing and more welcoming sport to young people.

The resounding feedback is that clubs want to do more in their communities and that they recognise the importance of reaching out locally, reinforcing connections. We are in the process of collating the feedback and using it to shape the future strategy for our nationwide junior programme.

The engagement exercise was focused on some key areas for growth:

  • Club programme
  • Golf in schools
  • Events and competitions
  • Education and training.

The insight will be invaluable in our commitment to evolving and improving our junior programme in the second half of the year and beyond.

There was a universal acknowledgement that more focus on family would be key to a prosperous future, especially in making the environment within clubs more welcoming and youth focused.

This is key to changing the perceptions of the clubhouse and removing some of the stigmas that, while they may now be unrepresentative of the game in 2019, nevertheless need to be improved to ensure that the game is genuinely accessible to all.

Accessibility starts from the mobile phone and the Scottish Golf app currently under development and testing will be a huge asset in showcasing the very best experience and value clubs can offer members, occasional and pay-as-you-play golfers alike.

Golf should be fun and interactive for younger generations and we are working hard to make the sport relevant in the modern era, with short-form versions such as Golf Sixes providing popular.

At school level specifically, resources and equipment have been identified as barriers to introduction and we have some insight into how we can work more effectively with education establishments, clubs and partners to provide equipment, as well as unlocking potential club volunteer and PGA support to deliver activity.

sportscotland’s Active Schools programme is an obvious area to increase opportunity to play but we can make it easier with on-the-ground information and stronger partnerships between schools, schoolkids and their parents to look at golf club family days.

In short, our aim is to empower clubs to cultivate better relationships within the communities and to help make that connection last through support, be it coaching, equipment or just signposting to local clubs.

We have also been working with our Young Person’s Golf Panel to make sure we make the sport as appealing as possible. Too often organisations make assumptions on what they think younger people want rather than asking them, so it has been helpful to understand barriers and opportunities through the eyes of the very people we want to engage with, and align that to the feedback from the junior forums.

Removing barriers – whether real or perceived – came across loud and clear. The belief that golf can be slow and time consuming prevails but that is the opportunity to reinforce the flexibility and availability of six and nine-hole golf.

It is here that fun really should begin and we again are working hard to provide versatile options with our clubs that relax some of the rules of the game and the intimidation factor of addressing the ball at the first tee for the first time.

The ability to borrow or hire clubs at low cost is key to literally putting a club in the hands of a young person interested in the sport but also the team element will help forge friendships for life.

Working with technology partners can help bring the fitness factor to golf: I’ve said often enough we don’t shout about the many and varied fitness benefits but thankfully in our partnership with The R&A people we are now seeing the evidence-based ways in which golf can radically improve your mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Parental influence is key and through the work our development team have undertaken I am confident we can provide many ways to inspire future generations of golfers and also in the processes teach a few of us comparative old dogs some new tricks.

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Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 30, 2019 22:22
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1 Comment

  1. Peter July 26, 15:57

    All spot on ! McKinlay “gets it !” Kudos ! It all starts on the local level, engaging more and many and removing barriers ! We’ve been making presentations in schools for years ! Engaging students, teachers and parents. We open our doors, allowing kids to play, parents to visit (some play) and teachers learn about the sport, its traditions and rules ! Revenue ? Not to worry, it will follow at some later time. The “big thing” is allowing young people input ! Giving them a seat “at the table”, letting them contribute and taking their contributions seriously. Something many in the industry find difficult !

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