Teams of youngsters have been playing Golf Foundation ‘GolfSixes’ events over the last few weeks, in a pilot project that follows the new European Tour format and aims to keep more young players at the heart of club golf.
More than 32 golf clubs are involved in a series of local leagues across seven regions of England; boys and girls playing inter-club matches taking aspects of the GolfSixes format as seen on TV on the European Tour in May; six players are in each team, playing six holes in a Texas Scramble against neighbouring clubs, with every hole’s points counting towards the final results. Many children are playing on golf courses for the very first time.
In a recent example (pictured), teams from Mill Green Golf Club (host), Essendon Country Club, Aldwickbury GC and Chesfield Down GC all competed in the ‘South’ regional matches in a league that also includes South Herts GC and Bushey CC.
With the kids playing in their club team coloured shirts in a league series funded by Sport England, nationally recognised charity the Golf Foundation is seeking to encourage competitive team golf for young players brand new to golf, helping to instil a sense of belonging for the juniors at club level and allowing them to experience golf out on the course while supported by the club PGA Professional and also their parents. This project is in support of England Golf’s strategy to retain more junior members at club level.
The Mill Green Golf Club event was just one of a regular series of matches up and down the country between August and up to October to find seven regional champions in England. The European Tour, which debuted GolfSixes at Centurion Club in May as a new trial format, has been supportive from the start. The Tour has provided the GolfSixes branding for all the matches and for the team shirts of all youngsters involved. At the launch event at Centurion Club, some 16 European Tour players supported local young players in a mini-tournament and through a ‘GolfSixes clinic’.
One parent at Mill Green GC said: “We loved this event because it’s great for our children to play six holes on the course, all as part of a team, which is fantastic for increasing confidence and making friends. Our lad plays at the range a bit during the week but as I’m working I don’t see that. Here, on a Sunday, all the parents can come along and cheer their kids on!”
Jason Sorrell, the Golf Foundation Regional Development Officer who ran the event at Mill Green, said: “It was brilliant to see the teams together in this way. The GolfSixes format is all about fun and teamwork. The Texas Scramble element is very forgiving for new players while the fact that every hole counts means the boys and girls have to stay focused and help each other out to succeed.
“We were also delighted to see many parents coming along to support, suggesting this pilot could grow to be a key family golf event for us all going forwards. We are hugely grateful to the European Tour for allowing us to embrace the GolfSixes branding in this way.”
Frederik Lindgren, Head of Corporate Responsibility at the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to see so many junior golfers partaking in the new GolfSixes pilot project, which is ultimately an exciting format that we hope will attract more people to the sport, whether that is taking up the game themselves or as spectators.
“The Golf Foundation has done an amazing job since the original GolfSixes Academy concept was delivered in May at the Centurion Club, and it is a testament to their work within the local communities that we have so many clubs involved.”
All of the clubs involved operate the Golf Foundation’s successful HSBC Golf Roots programme that helps young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in golf in support of the national development bodies. The Golf Foundation was delighted to receive funding from Sport England to test out this new team format as a means of encouraging more young people to ‘Stay’ in the sport.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org