Scottish golf is marking the fifth birthday of its National Junior Golf Programme, clubgolf, by celebrating significant achievements, announced this morning at Loch Lomond, which plays host to the prestigious Barclays Scottish Open later this week (10-13 July).
Scotland’s current European Tour star, Madeira Open winner Alistair Forsyth was in attendance endorsing the national junior programme, which is successfully delivering on its pledge to introduce more youngsters to the game than ever before.
This year alone, clubgolf has successfully achieved an introduction to golf in over half of the country’s primary schools. Out of 32 local authorities 31 now offer the introductory game ‘firstclubgolf’ and as a result 33,466 of Scotland’s Primary 5 children experienced golf in school this year.
The programme is making its presence felt in golf clubs too, exceeding its initial target to establish coaching in 200 golf clubs and facilities by 2009. In fact in 2008 clubgolf coaching will be delivered at 232 clubs across Scotland.
Significantly, clubgolf has also broken new ground in the area of coaching, establishing from scratch a volunteer workforce of 1,128 qualified coaches, now actively coaching young golfers.
Forsyth, who was part of the SGU’s national squad during his amateur career, commented on clubgolf’s successes.
“Having a healthy junior golf programme in Scotland which provides youngsters with an enjoyable introduction to the game is vital for the future of my sport,” he said. “To increase the number of Scots performing at the elite level of the game, more has to be done at grassroots level, and clubgolf’s achievements to date demonstrate the commitment by our governing bodies to help golf thrive at all levels.”
clubgolf, a partnership between the Scottish Golf Union, Scottish Ladies Golfing Association, Professional Golfers Association, The Golf Foundation and sportscotland was first established as the legacy programme for golf, signed up to by the Scottish Government as part of the successful bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2014. The programme aims to create the opportunity for every child to experience golf by age nine, and to increase junior participation in golf in Scotland.
Since its inception in 2003, clubgolf has become an integral part of the SGU and SLGA’s structured coaching programme, which provides a pathway that children can follow from early participation in the game right up to elite level. Following the Scottish Executive backed launch five years ago, the programme has attracted £1.85 million from sportscotland as part of a total investment of over £5 million invested in golf facilities across Scotland. This has all been delivered in the context of the clubgolf programme.
Speaking at the press conference, Scottish golf development manager Andy Salmon said, “We are extremely grateful to the European Tour for this opportunity to showcase our junior programme, and demonstrate its positive impact on the future of the game. The figures announced this morning are extremely encouraging, with continued significant growth in the numbers of schools and children participating in firstclubgolf.
“The programme is a great example of the SGU and SLGA working closely together and in partnership with the other relevant golfing bodies as well as sportscotland, and makes a fundamental contribution to our key goal, that of growing the game.
“clubgolf brings a fresh approach, linking golf clubs with schools to introduce new children to our sport. At the same time the programme has proved to be a catalyst for other initiatives which are helping to tackle inequality and break down traditional barriers in the game.
“‘Girls in Golf’, an ongoing Disability Golf Club pilot, and other initiatives all help to make the game more inclusive, and the challenge for our governing bodies is to ensure we retain these new players for a lifelong enjoyment of the game.”
Scottish Golf Union www.scottishgolfunion.org