More than 7,000 schoolchildren across the region have turned their hand to the sport as golf continues to play a major role in the sporting curriculum.
Golf’s role, including the work of the Golf Foundation and that of the PGA and its professionals, was recently recognised by the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) as a standard bearer for sport at its 10th anniversary conference.
The Golf Foundation’s grass roots programme has been rolled out all over the UK and beyond, but in the Midlands, the students on the PGA-backed University of Birmingham Applied Golf Management Studies degree are also playing a key role as West Midlands development officer Jason Sorrell explained: “Over the last two years 250 schools have taken part which has seen more than 7,000 kids get an introduction to golf.
“Assisting in the delivery of the sessions are the AGMS students who come into the schools and explain Tri-Golf and pass on some coaching. It’s good experience for both as the AGMS students are gaining valuable practical experience on coaching juniors and in groups sessions, while the kids are learning more about the game.”
Sorrell’s predecessor Gareth Jenkins, now a consultant to the Golf Foundation, explained how Tri-Golf was assisting in growing the game, and the benefits it had for PGA professionals.
“Tri-Golf has been a major hit in schools as it is giving the kids a safe environment to try out the sport, get some exercise but also develop a range of skills, including life skills,” he said. “These kids are more interested in golf as there are some role models like Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald who make the game seem really cool.
“Tri-Golf is fundamental in getting the kids started and interested in golf. There are five weeks at the school and then in the final week they go to a golf facility – a range or a club – where they get to finally use a real club and a real ball.
“The next step for them is a junior golf passport, which is overseen by a PGA professional, and can be done at the school or at a golf facility.
“There are some really strong partnerships, particularly in the Birmingham area, with clubs like Shirley, Halesowen and the Warwickshire all involved.”
One school which has gone the whole hog and even installed its own nine-hole course is Rednall Hill Junior School in south Birmingham.
Headteacher Graham Catt, an avid golfer, brought Tri-Golf in and such was the success the sport has gone from strength to strength, with them being crowned National Primary School Tri-Golf champions in 2010.
Supporting the school is Lea Marston’s DeanLake, who has just completed his three year foundation degree.
Catt said: “Dean comes in and does a school session and runs through Tri-Golf with them, teaching them skills and how to play the game. He’s been doing that for two years and has been a real asset.
“But the kids here love their golf. It started as lunchtime activity and the interest grew so much we expanded it as we saw the potential in developing their social skills through golf. We developed a nine-hole golf course around the school football pitch with the help of some funding.
“It’s a proper course with tees, bunkers, greens and the kids help to maintain it. They learn how to score and understand fairness. In terms of what it’s done for school, is incredible as there’s a real strong community feel.”
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org
PGA news www.PGA.info