Increasing numbers of secondary school children are being given the opportunity to play golf for the first time, in a structured Golf Foundation initiative that aims to swell the numbers of junior players at golf facilities.
The Golf Foundation, a charity committed to the sporting and social development of young people through golf, is attempting to mirror the success of its established Tri-Golf programme which sees more than 750,000 primary school children per year enjoying a first taste of golf.
The Foundation has received encouraging figures for its strategic work in training teachers and volunteers to deliver golf in secondary schools. Statistics made available by the Youth Sport Trust indicate that for 2007, 1,782 secondary schools had given access to golf to 11-16 year-olds, reaching an estimated 1,633,363 pupils. This represents a marked increase from 2004, when 309 secondary schools offered golf to youngsters.
The pupils are introduced to golf through Golf Xtreme, a complete golf game which uses slightly lighter metal clubs and short-distance golf balls. The game formats are all about fun for new players and have curriculum benefits for teachers.
Through Golf Xtreme, the Foundation has worked with teachers, volunteers, young leaders, partnership development managers, golf club junior organisers, county organisers and PGA professionals with the express aim of creating a stronger pathway to golf clubs and driving ranges so that more secondary school pupils from all backgrounds can become regular handicap golfers.
The evidence shows that Golf Xtreme has encouraged more young people into golf clubs and is allowing more children to be introduced to golf competitions on school sites.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “The recent figures for Golf Xtreme from the Youth Sport Trust sit well with the positive feedback we have received from both secondary and primary schools. They also demonstrate that as we attract more funding to expand our development programme, there is a direct, positive result for golf in schools. This growing level of activity will further increase the number of new juniors at golf clubs and help to protect the future of the game.
“Teenagers are faced with so many leisure options and we think it is important to reach them with golf because the game has so many positive attributes that can help in their personal and sporting development.”
In 2007, the Golf Foundation’s regional development team held a total of 308 training workshops for teachers and volunteers (44 per cent increase from 2006). Latest government figures show that the amount of golf in schools has doubled in a three-year period*, and 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, increasing from nine per cent in 2003/4 to 18 per cent in 2006/7. A total of 12,900 teachers and leaders have been trained in the last four years.
The development team is optimistic that government statistics for 2008, which will be released in November, will demonstrate further strong progress for the Golf Foundation in its role of helping to grow the game in support of the national golf partnerships in England, Scotland and Wales.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org
* Figures from the annual School Sport Survey carried out by TNS Social Research on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Government figures for sport in schools in England indicate that in a three-year period the number of schools offering golf has increased from just over 3,000 to almost 6,800.