The Golf Foundation thanks everyone who supported its bid to raise the profile of junior grass roots golf during The Open Championship at St Andrews.
The championship presented a unique opportunity for the leading golf charity to inspire a new generation of young golfers in support of the national golf partnerships of England, Scotland and Wales.
The R&A provided the ‘R&A Swingzone’ for the whole of Open week in the tented village at St Andrews. The Foundation team used this centre to profile its highly successful Golf Roots programmes which aim to reach one million youngsters a year through golf by 2013.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “For children attending The Open at St Andrews it must have been a very special experience. To watch the best players on the Old Course and then to actually have a go at our Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme games – available in ever increasing numbers of schools and clubs – was a great start in golf for many youngsters.
“This year we enjoyed visits from seven top professionals, including the eventual winner of the championship, Louis Oosthuizen, who all played Tri-Golf with the boys and girls. I am sure the youngsters will remember that for the rest of their lives.”
Mike added: “We were delighted to be sharing the R&A Swingzone facility with our partners in Scotland, clubgolf, and the Professional Golfers’ Association, both of which we support strongly. Together we welcomed over 5,000 youngsters during a great Open week.”
The week began with the Golf Foundation presenting Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter with its ‘Spirit of Golf’ Award, previously given to Gary Player, Tony Jacklin and Lee Westwood. Ian Poulter said he was honoured to receive this accolade for his efforts to inspire young people and told the children present to “follow your dreams”.
Joining Ian Poulter in the Swingzone during the practice days was the man who would win the Claret Jug, Louis Oosthuizen, and fellow competitors Zach Johnson, Bill Haas, Robert Karlsson, Tano Goya, and Mark Haastrup. Louis said: “I was delighted to help. Youngsters need encouragement to get into golf and I was really pleased to help the Golf Foundation.”
In the Swingzone, boys and girls enjoyed Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme challenges, competitions and a special putting challenge sponsored by Titleist. Titleist caps and golf balls were won, and on every day of the week each child who could hole three successive putts was entered in a daily draw to win an excellent Titleist Scotty Cameron putter. The PGA Collection also donated a set of junior golf clubs which were the prize in the week’s popular golf quiz.
Many youngsters took advantage of the free lessons given by PGA professionals throughout the week. The pros were present thanks to the Professional Golfers’ Association, who sponsor the professionals to teach the young golfers as part of the organisation’s commitment to junior golf. Professionals gave a record 2,400 lessons during the event.
First Minister for Scotland Alex Salmond was also a visitor to the Tri-Golf area of the R&A Swingzone and he clearly enjoyed taking some shots at the Tri-Golf targets. He talked to the team about Golf Roots, which aims to make the game of golf more accessible to children from all backgrounds and abilities and offer them ‘Skills for life’ as they develop as people.
Popular BBC radio presenter DJ Spoony is a Golf Roots Ambassador and a dedicated supporter and funder of the Golf Roots City Project, which this year is reaching 21 urban areas in England and Wales. DJ Spoony fired up the children and had a go at the specially created ‘Open Tri-Golf Challenge’ which all the professionals had played earlier in the week to much amusement from watching golf fans.
Mike Round said: “The R&A Swingzone was a new concept offering a wealth of choice for youngsters of different abilities, from the boy or girl having their first ever hit with a club, to the Titleist putting challenge which demanded great skill, to the lessons provided by the experienced PGA professionals. The area was provided by The R&A, a great supporter of the Foundation, and we are hugely grateful for the opportunity to raise the profile of our Golf Roots work. This was a highly successful event for junior grass roots golf.”
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org