The 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen inspired the next generation of golfers at the Golf Foundation’s National StreetGolf Championship Final on Monday (July 17) at Formby Hall.
This was a wonderful occasion for young people from all over the country who had qualified as new golfers, many recently experiencing a real golf course for the very first time in this team event, run by the Golf Foundation and the Premier League with support from Sport England. The Golf Foundation is the national charity that helps young people from different backgrounds to enjoy the playing and personal benefits of golf.
The visit of Louis Oosthuizen, a great friend to the Foundation in recent years, made this a day the boys and girls should always remember. Louis posed for personal pictures, talked with the youngsters and encouraged them before they all went on to Royal Birkdale to experience the first practice day of The Open Championship, thanks to support from The R&A.
For the StreetGolf Final, young fans normally cheering on their favourite strikers have become great strikers of a golf ball this summer as new young players from community golf programmes across 11 Premier League and Championship football clubs teed it up in a unique golf event which draws on the ‘power of football’.
Teenagers from diverse backgrounds and traditionally non-golfing families and communities wore their favourite teams’ football kits as they enjoyed a team Texas scramble and added attractions such as firing golf shots and footballs at a huge dartboard, learning football ‘freestyle’ tricks with Paul Wood, hitting a football cross-bar with golf shots; all helped by the excellent team of StreetGames Young Assistants (StreetGames is a great supporter of the Foundation). Formby Hall provided the perfect Par-3 venue for these emerging players.
Louis Oosthuizen joined in with the dartboard challenge before presenting the prizes. As a UPS Ambassador Louis came along with a special purpose of his own. Again, this year, Louis and fellow UPS Ambassador Lee Westwood are supporting the ‘Bags 4 Birdies’ campaign. For every birdie that Louis and Lee make in the four Majors, UPS will donate a set of golf clubs to a deserving youngster to help them make their way in the game (last year the pair secured 103 birdies).
The Golf Foundation is donating 12 golf sets on behalf of UPS and at the end of the final, Louis presented sets of clubs to two young people who showed the best attitude and respect for the sport and their peers on the day (termed as ‘Skills for Life’). These youngsters were Lily, from team Middlesbrough, and Josh from Aston Villa.
The finalists had taken part in local StreetGolf festivals and short course events at local golf clubs before qualifying for the Formby Hall event, which has been an integral part of the ‘Road to the Open’ project, run by the PGA, England Golf and the Golf Foundation and funded by The R&A, to provide opportunities for people to learn to play golf, and play golf more regularly.
Golf Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle said: “The aim of this national project has been to connect all the benefits of playing golf, including learning life skills associated with the game, with the wider audience in major footballing communities, using the ‘power of football’ thanks to the Premier League. We aim to provide all the youngsters involved with a pathway into golf clubs and potential membership.
“The day was made really special by the presence of Louis Oosthuizen. He is one of the good guys in every sense, a true gentlemen and he has made many friends among the young players. A great part of our work concerns offering the ‘Skills for Life’ benefits of the sport such as respect, resilience, fair-play and sportsmanship. Louis is the perfect example of the values we believe in passionately as a charity.”
Teams present were from the following football club projects: Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Stoke City, Team Wales (Bryn Meadows), and teams from Formby High School and two teams from Suffolk.
Formby High School were the winners of the final, with Team Wales winning the silver medal and Blackburn Rovers securing the bronze in third.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org