Golf clubs across Lancashire are using this week’s Open Championship as a springboard to growing the sport.
The world’s best golfers are heading to Royal Birkdale in Southport from July 16-23 with the dream of becoming the latest player to lift the coveted Claret Jug.
The event attracts worldwide attention, and now clubs in the region are hoping to raise awareness of local opportunities to give golf a go.
A Road to The Open campaign has been organised by England Golf, the Professional Golfers Association and the Golf Foundation with a range of activities to promote golf in schools, the local community and clubs. It is being supported by the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs and the Lancashire County Ladies Golf Association.
Aintree Grand National Golf Club set the tone for the project with a special family community open day.
As well as the more traditional free golf taster sessions, putting challenges and the chance to use the driving range, supported by US Kids Golf, families could enjoy bouncy castles, craft and food stalls with local businesses as well as live music. A further community event took place at Speke Hall in Liverpool.
Sixteen clubs around the Red Rose county are hosting special events while the Road to the Open project has connected with 10 primary schools and four secondary schools in the Southport area.
Each school now has a link to a local golf club, equipment has been provided and teachers trained alongside Young Leaders so they can deliver golf in PE classes or at schools sports events.
The Golf Foundation’s Andy Leigh said: “We’re already hearing great things from the teachers as they have started introducing their youngsters to golf and this should only intensify when ‘Open fever’ starts soon.
“Many of the schools in the area are arranging trips to The Open to watch the best golfers in the world. During the visit, the school groups will spend time with the Golf Foundation development team in the ‘R&A Swing Zone’ playing fun Tri-Golf and StreetGolf challenges.
“Don’t forget! It’s free admission for under 16’s at The Open, when accompanied by an adult.”
As part of the build-up to the Open, the final of the National Street Golf competition took place at Formby Hall Golf Resort on Monday, July 17.
A special brochure has been produced highlighting the Get into golf work going on at the 16 clubs – Accrington and District, Aintree Grand National, Blackley, Burnley, Fleetwood, Formby Hall Golf Resort and Spa, Haydock Park, Lancaster, Lee Park, Longridge, Myerscough, Mytton Fold, Oldham, Rossendale, Southport Old Links, and Stand.
Statistics show that sports enjoy a two-week spike in interest following a major event and Lancashire Golf Development Group county officers Adam McAlister and Debbie Barber will be working with clubs to help capitalise on this potential surge in participation.
England Golf regional manager Jason Budd says: “The Open is a great shop window for golf and a chance for the sport to kick football off the back pages of the national newspapers.
“It is golf’s Olympic moment and we want to make sure that those people who are interested in trying golf or returning to it as a result of watching or reading about The Open can find the right opportunity to suit them at a local club.”
Road to the Open organisers have launched a new Twitter handle, #roadtotheopen2017, which they are encouraging clubs to adopt on social media.
Get into golf is a national campaign to inspire adults to take up the game and is run by the England Golf Partnership through its network of County Golf Development Groups, supported by Sport England and National Lottery funding.
getintogolf.org opportunities include FREE taster sessions and low-cost beginner courses with PGA professionals. They are a fun and sociable way to start golf – and a great way to make new friends. You can follow Get into golf on Twitter twitter.com/getintogolf or on Facebook at facebook.com/Getintogolf
England Golf www.englandgolf.org