In 2008 the Golf Foundation (responsible for the development of golf in schools and the transition to golf facilities) trained over 1,000 16 to 19-year-olds as either Tri-Golf activators or Junior Golf Leaders. Many of these were then involved in helping to run school golf festivals and events across England as part of school sport‘s agenda to provide more competition in schools.
However, the real challenge is to deploy this ready, willing and able young workforce in golf clubs. Currently, there are pockets of good practice – at Tapton Park GC in Derbyshire, Eccleston Park GC in St Helens and North Wiltshire GC, for example (case study available).
Here young volunteers, both members and non-golfers, are working alongside the PGA coach and junior committee to encourage more children into the game. The advantage for the club and the game of golf is that more helpers mean that more new children can be introduced to the game in a session. Rather than working with 10 juniors, a PGA coach can now oversee and coordinate a session for up to 30 juniors, supported and helped by his or her young assistants.
In order to promote this good practice and encourage more opportunities for young volunteers at clubs, the England Golf Partnership ran a Young Volunteer Day at Loughborough University, involving PGA coaches, young volunteers and young volunteer coordinators from 16 projects in England.
All projects receive funding from Sport England to deliver a programme of golf linking schools to local clubs. The purpose of the day was to train the young volunteers on the newly launched Junior Golf Leaders Workshop and to encourage the projects to look at ways of deploying the young leaders alongside the PGA coaches, when introducing golf to more juniors at the clubs. The young leaders‘ new leadership skills were then tested to the full in the afternoon when they ran a golf festival for 60 pupils from the local secondary school.
Anne Homyer, project manager – children and young people volunteering, for Sport England, said, "Several different sports have run young volunteer events like this but the striking feature of the England Golf Partnership‘s day is that they have targeted club coaches and the partnership development managers as well as the young people themselves. This coordinated approach will ensure that there is greater support and more opportunities for young golf volunteers so that they can be deployed into high quality placements at local clubs – the ultimate goal of the event."
The target for 2009 is to have at least 15 school-to-club link projects offering training for young volunteers, opportunities to help at school festivals and deployment at the local golf club.
Phil Beard, volunteer manager for England Golf, said, "All the evidence points to the fact that those golf clubs who are encouraging young volunteers to come forward are seeing them make a massive impact on the life of their junior sections. Not only are they a great help to the junior organisers they can also engage in a new way with younger players. We believe this approach will help to play a key role in retaining young people between the ages of 18 and 25 in golf, which of course is paramount to the long term health of our golf clubs."
England Golf is a partnership between the English Golf Union, the English Women‘s Golf Association and the PGA with the support of the Golf Foundation and Sport England. ‘The Whole Sport Plan for golf‘ is an initiative supported by Sport England that identifies how England Golf will achieve its vision of being ‘The Leading Golf Nation in the World by 2020‘ from grass roots right through to the elite level.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org