The Golf Foundation has reported that its GolfSixes League initiative is going from strength to strength and continuing to have a highly positive impact on junior membership across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
The Golf Foundation’s 2021 GolfSixes League Impact Report reveals that thanks to backing from The R&A – the charity’s leading supporter – GolfSixes League has become a game-changing format for juniors and golf clubs. This fun team formula is loved by children and is a winner with parents, as junior membership figures increase significantly at participating clubs.
Since its trial in 2017 more clubs are engaging in GolfSixes League every year, and despite a pause in activity in 2020 due to Covid-19, the initiative is proving to be more popular than ever.
The inclusive, fun and competitive six-hole team format where beginner golfers play in a league with other local golf clubs is achieving its purpose of increasing the number of regular junior players. More than 5,200 youngsters took part across 74 leagues from 386 golf venues in 2021, leading to a 35% increase in affiliated junior membership across those clubs involved.
Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “We are further encouraged that more and more clubs are excited to be involved in the programme – an endorsement of all the strengths of the format. GolfSixes League is therefore a winning formula that is great for golf and is all set to return bigger and better in 2022.
“Reaction from clubs, parents and most importantly the players, proves that GolfSixes League is good for golf, as it is helping to secure the next generation of golfers. We are highly grateful to The R&A and the home nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for their support. GolfSixes League is expanding in 2022, with plans in place to support 120 leagues, 600 golf clubs and 7,560 players. Given the pleasure, confidence and wellbeing it is promoting in its young players, GolfSixes League is also an excellent example of ‘golf for good’.“
GolfSixes League has become a crucial part of the Golf Foundation’s national HSBC Golf Roots strategy that introduces children to golf from all backgrounds, creating golfers. The charity’s team and its partners know that golf can change the lives of young people.
In 2021, all four home nations embraced the dynamic team philosophy with adaptations to suit their own regions. All acknowledge the same benefits, with increases in junior participation and membership, high player satisfaction, plus continually improving connectivity with parents.
Some 83% children ranked being in a team as the part they enjoyed most about GolfSixes League, followed by playing on different courses, becoming a better golfer and making friends. In 2021 the Foundation was encouraged to see 30% of players were girls (clubs are urged to field mixed teams).
PGA Coaches at the heart of GolfSixes League
PGA Professional coaches, who are at the heart of every GolfSixes League, recognised that the format created an enthusiasm for golf and responded accordingly. Even with the organisational challenges around Covid-19, extra practice sessions were arranged, and players were offered follow-on coaching/playing opportunities. They were encouraged into club membership to nurture their interest in golf and improve their ability. Interestingly, 21% of GolfSixes League players joined some form of county golf programme.
Golf club feedback included:
– 86% of juniors said they were more likely to play golf more often;
– 70% of children practised/or went to coaching more than usual as a result of being part of the GolfSixes League;
– 90% of team managers felt the league created a greater connection with parents and children.
Parents new to golf, reaching a new audience
Excellent parental engagement and support remains a key feature of GolfSixes League. 67% of parents volunteered at events, the majority chose to chaperone/caddy, but others were scorers or team captains. The Golf Foundation team believes part of the appeal of GolfSixes League is the ever growing connection between clubs and families that it provides. Parents and players were most likely to describe the format as ‘fun, friendly, organised and inclusive’ which is an indication of the welcome golf clubs extended to families.
The phrases parents used to describe Golf Sixes League were: Fun (89%), friendly and easy going (77%), well organised (77%), inclusive (65%) and meet new parents/children (59%).
A third of parents were non-golfers which demonstrates that GolfSixes League has an appeal beyond the traditional golfing audience.
Clubs also benefited from hosting Golf Sixes League events with an increase in revenue from food, beverage and clothing sales.
Titleist helps inspire the players
The Golf Foundation is very grateful to Titleist, a key supporter of the charity, for supplying each GolfSixes League player with three Titleist golf balls as encouragement in their play. It is great to hear how receiving the golf balls makes the youngster feel like a proper golfer, and now that’s exactly what they are.