The Foundation’s team of Regional Development Officers (RDOs) has been demonstrating that golf can offer young people the chance to develop a range of life skills like honesty, perseverance, respect and concentration. And it is a message that seems to have growing resonance.
A healthy sport needs adults and young people who unselfishly give up their time to support the next generation of young players. The Foundation’s ‘skills for life’ message is attracting more and more mentors for the young. Many are teachers, parents, older brothers and sisters and many are new to golf themselves, but that doesn’t matter as their enthusiasm is helping to get the youngsters started.
In 2007, the RDOs trained a total of 4,451 volunteers, sports leaders, coaches and teachers as it supported the England Golf Partnership’s bid to grow the game (this figure represents a 44% increase from 2006). Of this number, 2,953 teachers were trained (a 52% increase on 2006) to deliver Tri-Golf for younger children and Golf Xtreme for secondary school pupils.
The Foundation also tapped into the talent of young volunteers, training 627 14-18 year-olds to mentor youngsters at schools and golf clubs. All these people have helped to reach an estimated 700,000 children in the last year.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “In 2006, funding allowed us to increase our regional development team from four to six officers. We knew that our strategy to grow the game in schools was working and through our organisation’s strong knowledge of development we were able to choose the right new people to improve an already excellent team and, crucially, train more teachers and volunteers, thereby reaching more children through school and community projects.”
The Golf Foundation last year worked closely with 307 School Sport Partnerships which delivered golf in their local groups of primary and secondary schools (a 15% increase from 2006). The RDO team held a total of 308 training workshops for teachers and volunteers (44% increase from 2006), which is an average of just under 52 workshops per region.
All this good work from the Golf Foundation’s own internal monitoring is reflected by the latest government figures which show that the amount of golf in schools has doubled in the past three years*.
Mike Round added, “The figures clearly demonstrate that when we can attract more funding to expand our development programme, there is a direct, positive result for golf in schools. Furthermore, as a direct result of the Golf Foundation’s strategic approach to its work, the percentage of schools with formal links to golf clubs has also doubled in the last three years, increasing from 9% in 2003/4 to 18% in 2006/7*.
“All this activity is gaining a real momentum and, in time, will further increase the number of new juniors at golf clubs and help to protect the future of golf clubs. We hope that people will now start to understand the direct link between what we do as an organisation and the positive results that can be achieved in terms of feeding youngsters into club-based activity. Essentially, we run national initiatives which have a strong local impact.”
To maintain this momentum the Golf Foundation needs more funding from golfers up and down the country. The Foundation recently started the ‘Commit to Junior Golf’ campaign, in which it is asking all golf club members to contribute £2 per year to help protect the future of the game (donations made typically through subscription).
Supporters include the R&A, PGA, European Tour and GCMA. Readers can find out more about the campaign at www.golf-foundation.org
The Foundation’s regional development team has now grown to seven officers for 2008, increasing potential again to reach more new golfers.
* Figures from the annual School Sport Survey carried out by TNS Social Research on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org