The Golf Foundation is delighted that its hard work in making golf more accessible to youngsters is proving to be successful. For 2009, the charity will be looking for more support from all club golfers to build on this genuine momentum for junior grass roots golf.
Newly released government figures for England show that the strategy of introducing golf to schools and then linking those schools to golf clubs in order to expand the player base is working. The School Sport Survey for 2007/08* indicates that the number of schools delivering golf has increased to 38 per cent (previously 31 per cent in 2006/07, 23 per cent in 2005/06).
In four years, the number of schools delivering golf has doubled from 19 per cent to 38 per cent, second only to cycling in terms of the fastest growth of sports measured by the survey. Not only has the number of schools increased but the number of schools with links to golf clubs and driving ranges has increased to 22 per cent (18 per cent in 2006/7).
The Golf Foundation is carrying out its national initiatives in schools and the community in England in support of England Golf. England Golf’s ‘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. The new government figures cover England but the Golf Foundation is also supporting the national golf partnerships of Scotland and Wales in their work in increasing access for youngsters.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “In these challenging economic times and in a period that has witnessed decreasing golf club membership, latest government figures testify to the real progress of the Golf Foundation’s work in developing golf in schools and forming links between schools and golf clubs and driving ranges.
“The Golf Foundation is a charity which relies on public funding for its activity. I hope that this survey’s demonstrated value of our initiatives can underline the message that the more funding we receive, the more successfully we can encourage children from all backgrounds into the game, thus helping the national golf partnerships to fulfil their objectives.”
Mike added, “We will be seeking more financial backing from all club golfers during 2009 – asking for a little of their support now to protect the future of the game, a game which all of us adults have benefited from playing. If we can secure the funding to further develop our national initiatives it will have tremendous benefits for all of golf going forwards.”
Much of the success of the Foundation’s work in schools has been because of the popularity of Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme, both modified versions of golf which have been designed to suit growing children and to help with their physical and mental development through a diverse range of inclusive games and competition formats.
Another decisive factor has been the growth of the team of Regional Development Officers (RDOs) from four to seven staff in the last three years, thanks to increased funding opportunities. The committed team covers the whole country and has been able to train a high number of teachers and volunteers to deliver Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme in schools. In 2007 for example, the RDOs trained a total of 4,451 volunteers, sports leaders, coaches and teachers (this figure represents a 44 per cent increase from 2006). Just under 3,000 of this total were teachers (a 52 per cent increase on 2006).
Working with local school sport partnerships, the RDOs are driving the growing number of formal links between schools and golf clubs, and supporting England Golf in the accreditation of those golf clubs that are worthy of GolfMark junior-friendly status. On behalf of England Golf, the Foundation has made a commitment to provide the Competition Manager in every school sport partnership with a free 92-page school’s Competition Toolkit to create positive competition at all levels of the school and school-club network, to generate more regular young players.
* 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