Golf clubs across Lancashire are being urged to use this summer’s Open Championship as a springboard to growing the sport. The world’s best golfers will be 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 events 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 is being 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.
The project is aiming to work with primary and secondary schools, offering special taster sessions, while pupils will be invited to The Open to visit the Golf Foundation and PGA in the specially-created Swing Zone. Golf-themed assemblies will be delivered in Southport schools while staff, as well as the pupils, will be able to take part in Get into golf sessions.
Community projects include Street Golf, an initiative that takes the sport away from the traditional fairways and greens and out onto pavements and roads to increase the accessibility of the sport. The national final of the HSBC Golf Roots Street Golf competition will be held in the Southport area at the start of Open week, while there will be special family-orientated events before and after the championships.
Golf clubs will be asked to host taster sessions and a Road to The Open competition as well as social events, such as The Open Quiz night or food and drink festivals. Clubs will also be encouraged to promote Golf Express to visitors to The Open, with the message that there is “time for 9” as part of their trip.
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 Gareth Shaw 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.
“We want clubs to take the opportunity to celebrate the Open being on our doorstep by, perhaps, taking golf out to the community, into the parks or the clubs, a city centre or a beach – or holding a social night, such as a Spanish or American-themed event. It is not just about what happens on the grass! Clubs should dream big and ensure the Open is not just a one-shot experience.”
Danielle Thomas, Regional Coaching Development Officer for the PGA, said: “This is not just about Open week but creating a legacy from the event. We will get all kinds of people going through the Swing Zone at the Open –youngsters picking up a club for the first time and even a 92 year-old who was still enjoying their golf – but we want to make sure clubs have the right offer in place in the weeks afterwards.”
Andy Leigh, regional officer for the Golf Foundation, said: “Lots of people want to pick up a tennis racquet after Wimbledon but may head for the parks rather than the clubs. So we want to ensure the clubs can help those who want to pick up a golf club after the Open.”
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.
Get into golf 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.
Get into Golf www.getintogolf.org
England Golf www.englandgolf.org