Doing it for the kids

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 22, 2021 09:14

While young adult participation has boomed during the pandemic, clubs are being asked to not forget to provide opportunities for juniors.

Tim Henman at Frilford Heath Golf Club (Image by Matt Greaves)

During what should have been the Open Championship at Royal St George’s a year ago, tennis legend Tim Henman took part in the Golf Foundation’s ‘Golf is Open for Kids’ campaign to encourage young people and families to find their nearest HSBC Golf Roots Centre and enjoy safe coaching and playing opportunities.

He volunteered to support a safe group coaching session at one of these centres, at Frilford Heath Golf Club, to showcase how a welcoming golf club is the ideal place for youngsters to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the game. Henman supported the club’s PGA professional Alex Beckett and Golf Foundation regional development officer Paul Aitkens (himself a PGA Advanced Professional) as they held two sessions of coaching of four and five children in each class, with all the appropriate social distancing and safety procedures. Tim was able to help boys and girls of different ages and abilities in the sessions, and as a two-handicap golfer, he clearly enjoyed passing on a few of his own shot making secrets.

Afterwards, Tim Henman said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this campaign and to help highlight the great work that HSBC does with the Golf Foundation through HSBC Golf Roots, an initiative that gives half a million children the opportunity to try the game each year. Golf has so many health and well-being benefits and helps teach mental resilience and life skills to young people who take up the game. These life skills are now more important than ever and I’m thrilled to add my support to the Golf is Open for Kids campaign.”

Clubs are also going the extra mile, even amid the boom in adult participation, to introduce the game to children.

SCHLOSS Roxburghe, home to Roxburghe Golf Course in the Scottish Borders, for example, has been offering complimentary golf membership to junior golfers aged 14 and under since it reopened in April.

“It has never been more important to encourage juniors to actively pursue sports. SCHLOSS Roxburghe want to make golf appealing, accessible and an enriching experience that all young people can take advantage of,” said a spokesman.

While leading independent school Dollar Academy has launched a golf programme in partnership with Gleneagles, allowing pupils at the school to experience world-class golf coaching coupled with an outstanding academic education.

Dollar Academy has launched a golf programme in partnership with Gleneagles

The golf programme, which will launch in August, caters for complete beginners through to experienced players, with all participants receiving personal development plans. Coaching will be provided by Gleneagles’ team of PGA professionals, with sessions organised around academic lessons.

Golf is a popular activity at Dollar, with around 70 boys and girls playing each year, including advanced players who have represented both the school and country in national and international competitions.

In addition to the three championship courses, nine-hole par three Wee Course and extensive world-class practice facilities at Gleneagles, golfers at Dollar can also benefit from the nine-hole Dollar Golf Course, which is located right next to the school. Muckhart Golf Club, which boasts three nine-hole courses, and a local driving range are both located within a five-minute drive of Dollar.

Ian Munro, Rector of Dollar Academy, said: “We believe in a holistic approach to education that allows our pupils to discover and develop their passions, whether that be in the classroom, auditorium, sports pitch or, in this case, golf course. Our extensive co-curricular programme has always been a key feature at the school, with pupils able to choose from over 100 different clubs and activities.

Dollar Academy has launched a golf programme in partnership with Gleneagles

“This partnership with Gleneagles will enhance our current golf programme, and ensure our pupils have the opportunity to grow their experience and knowledge of the game through expert guidance and access to world-renowned facilities.”

Image by Leaderboard Photography

Andrew Jowett, head of golf at Gleneagles, commented: “Golf has always offered all ages a wonderful platform from which to learn and develop important inter-personal life skills, and we are genuinely excited to be working with Dollar Academy on a programme that offers pupils an enjoyable and friendly gateway into the sport. This programme forms a key part of our plans to introduce more young players to the game in the local community.”

This all comes after the Golf Foundation reported in 2020 that more young people are signing up as junior members, and staying at golf clubs.

The Golf Sixes League Launch at Goodwood Golf, West Sussex. Sunday 5th May 2019.
Pictured is action from the day including photography with professional golfer Meghan MacLaren.
Photograph by Sam Stephenson, 07880 703135, www.samstephenson.co.uk.

It states that in the 2019/20 year, there was an 11 percent increase in junior membership in the network of 437 HSBC Golf Roots Centres (3,784 extra members) from the previous year (2018/19), and a 35 percent increase in membership at GolfSixes League playing clubs.

This helped to create a one percent increase in overall membership in Scotland and a 3.9 percent increase in girls’ membership in Wales.

The Golf Foundation’s 2020 Impact Report (image by Chris Vagughan)

Golf Foundation CEO Brendon Pyle said: “We feel GolfSixes League has been a particularly exciting success story for so many families, many brand new to golf. A healthy junior section creates highly positive social and business benefits for all those venues which are prepared to invest in the next generation of young golfers.”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 22, 2021 09:14
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