Amid the hype and intensity of the 140th Open Championship, three competitors at Royal St George’s showed their appreciation of the junior grass roots level of the sport by supporting the Golf Foundation and inspiring youngsters to take up the game.
After the Golf Foundation’s President Colin Montgomerie showed his skills to children from the charity’s ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme on Tuesday, boys and girls cheered on players Webb Simpson, Brian Davis and Nick Watney on Wednesday. The trio, made available courtesy of Titleist, played in a quick-fire Open Challenge, firing balls at the targets against the clock in the R&A Swingzone.
HSBC Golf Roots aims to reach one million youngsters per year by 2013, an ambitious programme in schools, communities and clubs, which the Golf Foundation is able to showcase during the whole of Open week thanks to significant support from The R&A.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “The R&A Swingzone in the tented village has been hugely popular and we’ve been delighted to welcome many youngsters to have a go at golf.
“One or two of our visiting school groups have been particularly fortunate to meet and play alongside Webb, Brian and Nick, which I am sure will have been hugely inspirational. The three players, as was the case with Colin Montgomerie, have really engaged with the children and been very generous with their time. The Titleist team should be proud of these excellent ambassadors for the sport.”
Webb Simpson said he “really enjoyed the Tri-Golf, it’s great fun for the boys and girls”. Nick Watney was happy to answer plenty of questions from excited young children, revealing that he was always working hard to improve further, that it was important to be respectful to your fellow players and that he started playing at aged 13. “You guys have plenty of time,” he told his new fans.
Brian Davis was highly attentive to his school group after posting the highest Tri-Golf score of the day in the pro challenge, affording him significant bragging rights. He said later: “Tri-Golf is clearly a great introduction to the game for these youngsters, getting them used to swinging a club and going for a target and having lots of fun. All of us adults who have enjoyed the game have to make sure we are as welcoming as possible to young golfers. This is really important.”
Brian revealed that he had always been “hugely encouraged and supported” by members of East Herts and Chadwell Springs Golf Clubs when he was growing up and learning to play.
Titleist are also supporting the Golf Foundation during the week with the creation of a special sponsored putting challenge. Titleist caps can be won and on every day of the week each child who can hole three successive putts will enter a draw to win an excellent Titleist Scotty Cameron putter.
During the week, many youngsters will also take advantage of the free lessons given by PGA professionals present at The R&A Swingzone. The pros are present thanks to The Professional Golfers’ Association, who sponsor the professionals to teach the young golfers as part of the organisation’s commitment to junior golf. Last year, a record 2,400 lessons were given during the event.
The Golf Foundation is supported strongly by, among others, The R&A, HSBC, 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.
HSBC Golf Roots Ambassadors include Lee Westwood, Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, Ken Brown and Alison Nicholas.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org