When two of your teams are ranked among the top three in the country, you must be doing something right. So what is the secret of Crown Golf’s recent success as regards junior golf at national level?
In August the three-man junior teams sent by St Mellion International Resort and Sunbury Golf finished joint second at the 2018 England Golf Champion Club finals at Frilford Heath GC, losing out only to the winning team from Horsehay Village GC. Both teams are the product of intensive junior golf programmes at Crown Golf’s 21 venues, which between them have over 1,000 junior members. The head of the company’s group-wide Golf Development Professional initiative, Rob Spurrier, points to three key factors in their success.
“You need a structured plan, skilled coaches, and the right facilities” he said. “It is all about consistency and organisation, especially across a large group like ours.
“At Crown Golf we have created a new role – Golf Development Professional – to act not only as the chief introducer to the sport, but also to act as the social glue at the golf club, getting young people as involved as possible. Our GDPs always ask themselves: are we working closely enough with the local community, and the schools in the area? We work with The Golf Foundation and the Junior Golf Passport scheme, and across the group we have implemented the Crown Golf junior golf structure, with the core objective of maximising enjoyment of the game and therefore increasing participation among young people.
“This is further supported by Crown Golf’s commitment to family golf, providing complimentary junior memberships with every adult membership, ensuring families can create great golfing memories together in our friendly and welcoming golf clubs.
“We are all tremendously proud of the boys from Sunbury and St Mellion who came so close to the win” he said. “Word of their achievement has spread throughout each golf club, and this will inspire yet more youngsters to encourage their friends to take up golf.”
Jason Avery, PGA Teaching Professional at St Mellion International Resort, said: “Our three boys Ryan Gregory, Jamie Palmer and Harry Taylor have inspired the whole of St Mellion. Finishing second in England while representing Cornwall was beyond everybody’s dreams. They only entered the Qualifier for experience, but they won it, and almost did the same in the Final. For a coach, it is great to see that they could take what they learnt at St Mellion to perform brilliantly away from the comfort of their home club.
Avery shared some junior golf coaching tips of his own: “You must accept that the wheel takes time to turn, with young pupils, so use the power of the group and help them make friendships. They will pull each other along. Don’t blind them with science – you need to gradually build up the technical part of the lessons. And it helps if you have a strong pyramid system, like we have here. The St Mellion junior golf scholarship system is superb: Ryan, Jamie and Harry are all in it.”
Golf Development Professional Luke Walker at Sunbury GC said: “All three of our competitors have learnt their golf and grown as players in our Academy for many years, and at the Finals they were proud to represent Surrey which is one of England Golf’s true powerhouses. At 3 handicap Tom Corrigan leads the way – he shot a main course record 60 here at Sunbury in May this year – but Harry Dean and Owen Fox are both also good young golfers, improving fast. We’re amazingly proud of them, and as one of their long-time coaches I found their success at England level to be incredibly fulfilling.”
Speaking about the secrets of Sunbury’s success with juniors, Walker said: “Crucially, we have always had tremendous support from the Sunbury club management team. We focus on progressing our juniors so that they can play in all club competitions, and we make the most of the facilities here – for example we created special tees in the rough on our nine-hole course to create a special nine-hole short course for our junior golfers. We keep the games light and easy in our younger age-group classes, and pick out individuals for more personal coaching.
“The Junior Academy is what drives me most of all here” he said, “and like at all Crown Golf clubs, juniors under 14 can join our golf club for free if a relative is already a member, which is highly appreciated by parents of keen young golfers!”
A third Crown Golf team, from Chesfield Downs Golf Club, also made the finals as the Hertfordshire representatives. The club’s Golf Development Professional, Jo Oliver, reveals what works at her golf club: “It’s important to constantly move juniors forwards as regards skill levels” she said, “and we start coaching them as early as five years old – although for the youngest it is crucial to keep it fun and family-orientated.
“We host around 125 children a week here at the academy and there’s a progressive funnel towards highly-skilled golf to help all of them to develop. We keep everyone’s parents fully informed, we use the Herts Golf Union Player Pathway for Juniors, and we run junior classes seven days a week. Plus, they are always welcome on the main golf course.”
See www.crown-golf.co.uk for more information about coaching at Crown Golf.
Crown Golf www.crown-golf.co.uk