The Golf Foundation forecasts a ‘golden opportunity’ for junior golf in 2006. There will be more golf than ever on the curriculum in our schools and much greater support available – both financial and advisory – to help forward- thinking golf clubs welcome youngsters as part of sports partnerships with the wider community.
Opportunity knocks following a dynamic 2005 for the Golf Foundation, working to grow the game as part of its commitment as a partner in the national golf partnerships in England and Wales.
Last year, its team of Regional Development Officers and events and promotions staff came into contact with children from a total of 3,000 primary schools. It brought Tri-Golf, the PGA-endorsed modified golf game using plastic clubs, soft balls and colourful targets, to a total of 300,000 children aged five and upwards.
In the classroom, Tri-Golf was introduced to children by specially trained teachers, volunteers, parents and PGA professionals as both a fun game and a learning resource for subjects like maths and geography. The Foundation has just received retail results that show the sale of Tri-Golf sets, produced by Davies Sports, were up by 50 per cent for the year 2005, compared with 2004.
A growing number of schools have embraced Tri-Golf to the extent that they are building outdoor Tri-Golf courses in the school grounds, with bunkers and other hazards for the five-year-old and up golfer, offering a first experience in on-course play, rules and etiquette. In Birmingham, five schools have created or are creating courses, with the first ‘Tri-Golf Open Championship’ in history to be played between the schools this coming July.
Outside school hours, Tri-Golf has been played at after-school clubs, community sports festivals (including in nine urban areas as part of the Daily Telegraph Marriott Golf Roots programme) and at major sporting events like the BMW Championship at Wentworth and the Open Championship at St Andrews (where some great sports – Brad Faxon, Adam Scott, Patrik Sjoland, Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle and Soren Hansen – all took on the kids at Tri-Golf).
Building on success at primary school level, the Golf Foundation is soon to embark on a whole new golf programme for secondary schools – called ‘Golf Xtreme’ – bringing the sport to many thousands of new players aged 11-16.
Designed for both boys and girls, Golf Xtreme combines some of the best parts of the traditional sport – hitting balls a long way at interesting targets – while involving different scoring formats such as strokeplay and matchplay, and team games which include everyone and keep you fit (involving plenty of running around).
Golf Xtreme is currently being tried out at 20 schools across England and Wales and will be officially launched in April, around a specially organised Golf Xtreme and education day, to be held at the De Vere Belfry and attended by 100 of the country’s most forward-thinking sports teachers and local sport partnership managers.
The Golf Foundation is now also heavily involved with the many newly- established local sport partnerships in England and Wales. Through its work in an estimated 160 School Sport Partnerships, many of which have been created during the last year, the Foundation has been improving the links between golf clubs and schools. The creation of a formal link between a golf club and local schools, as part of a local partnership, is bringing grants to those partnerships from the government-funded national Physical Education and School Sport Club Links (PESSCL) programme (government money that is given, in England, to the England Golf Partnership and then administered by the Golf Foundation).
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “With the fantastic success of Tri-Golf and the excellent feedback we have been receiving for our soon-to-be-launched Golf Xtreme, 2006 looks like being a hugely exciting one for introducing new youngsters to golf in schools. We also believe this commitment to golf by schools is set to grow further as more and more schools become closely linked to golf clubs through local sports partnerships, the national partnerships and the PESSCL programme. This will have an enormous benefit, making golf a more community-centred activity that can be enjoyed by children from a diverse range of backgrounds, which has to be good for the future of the sport. We believe that this potential for a stronger link between schools and clubs is a golden opportunity for junior golf.”
The Golf Foundation recognises that much more work still needs to be done to continue this momentum but believes the above programmes are making a positive difference to how golf is viewed by schools and how schools are viewed by golf clubs.
The Golf Foundation runs all the above programmes as part of its commitment as a partner in the national golf partnerships in England and Wales and is committed to promoting equality of opportunity to all children through this role.
The Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org