Leading golf charity the Golf Foundation was able to demonstrate at its recent Annual General Meeting that 2010 had been its most successful year to date in its role to develop junior grass roots golf.
On 5 May, at Wentworth Club, Board members heard that the Golf Foundation is on track to reach one million youngsters a year through ‘Golf Roots’ by 2013. The ambitious task is to be backed by one of the greats of the game after the formal election of new President Colin Montgomerie during the AGM. Colin takes over the reins from Ken Schofield after the former Chief Executive of The European Tour himself presided over a hugely progressive period for the charity.
Founded in 1952 with the support and influence of Henry Cotton, the Foundation has always supported the cause of the young golfer, with World Number One Lee Westwood just one of the big names who received funding support for coaching as a youngster (Lee is now a Golf Roots Ambassador).
The Golf Foundation of today is a highly progressive development organisation which is supported strongly by, among others, The R&A, The European Tour, the Ryder Cup, the PGA, the England Golf Partnership, Sport England, the Ryder Cup Trust, and the British Golf Industry Association’s Grow Golf fund.
With this support the Foundation has been able to create Golf Roots, a strategy that is helping to get more youngsters from all backgrounds and cultures playing golf in schools, golf clubs and driving ranges. Golf Roots is also offering valuable ‘Skills for life’ to children to assist in their development as young people. Role models in this aim include Golf Roots Ambassadors Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, Alison Nicholas, DJ Spoony and Ken Brown.
During the AGM, trustees heard that according to a recent government survey for England*, the number of schools offering golf increased from 38% in 2007/8 to 44% in 2009/10. This figure was 23% in 2005/06 and just 14% in 2003/4. The number of schools with formal links to golf clubs and driving ranges increased from 26% in 2008/9 to 30% in 2009/10. In 2003/4, this figure was just 9%. Some 39% of primary schools and 66% of secondary schools offered golf in the academic year of 2009/10.
The government survey shows that of 450 School Sport Partnerships (SSPs), every one now has a school which offers golf, with the largest offering at a single SSP involving 71 schools. The Foundation enjoys formal links with 84% of SSPs and in total, 9,428 (44%) of schools in SSPs offered golf to youngsters in 2010.
Similarly, in Scotland and Wales, the Golf Foundation has helped to significantly increase the amount of golf in schools and has provided grant-aid to clubs to assist with their coaching programmes.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “While these figures show success in the strategy, I’d also like to highlight how much time and commitment it takes to forge so many partnerships around the country. We have a highly committed team of seven Regional Development Officers and they deserve huge praise for this achievement. Using Golf Roots they have changed perceptions of golf in schools from being elitist, and unworkable in PE and Games, to something that is inclusive and exciting for all children, offering follow-on opportunities at golf clubs and ranges.
“The Golf Foundation supports the national golf partnerships of England, Scotland and Wales and this growth in junior grass roots interest is also being seen by clubgolf in Scotland and by Golf Development Wales. Our team will now try to raise our game further to continue to repay the support for the Golf Foundation shown by both corporate bodies and the many individual golfers who contribute to the cause.”
* Figures from the Department for Education School Sport Survey 2009/10 carried out by TNS-BMRB on behalf of the Department for Education
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org