Ernie Els yesterday officially opened a new gallery in the British Golf Museum aimed at junior golfers and at the same time endorsed a scheme, set up by St Andrews Links Trust, to bring youngsters into golf.
The 18th Hole gallery, which has been designed primarily for families and children, has a host of hands-on exhibits and displays to give youngsters the chance of touching and even playing with the equipment and clothes that were part of the game over the past two hundred years.
Kathryn Baker, curator of the British Golf Museum said, “We are delighted to have the support of both Ernie Els and St Andrews Links Trust in this project. The gallery has proved to be very successful so far and we hope its popularity will continue to grow. We are very enthusiastic about junior golf at the Museum and are delighted to be able to work with the St Andrews Links Junior Golf Association (SALJGA) in promoting it.”
One part of the exhibit, already proving popular, is a putting green where present day skills can be tested with the equipment of yesteryear. Replica putters made by experts such as ‘Philp’, and ‘Forgan’ and examples of Bobby Jones’ renowned putter, ‘Calamity Jane’, are there to be tested with featheries, hand hammered gutta perchas, Haskells and a 1.68 present day ball.
Children all like dressing up and aspiring actors are well catered for with an extensive range of scaled-down clothes reflecting those worn by golfers in the past.
But the gallery is not entirely focused in the past. Present day equipment is well featured and a full sized professional bag and set of clubs give youngsters the chance to experience what a tour professional caddy has to ‘lug’ round a golf course.
The more artistic skills of budding golfers are also looked after. An attractive drawing area includes a large floor jigsaw of the Swilcan Bridge and 18th hole. Young artists can have their finished works published on the British Golf Museum web site.
On hand at the opening, dressed in period costume, were members of the St Andrews Links Junior Golf Association. The association was launched just over a year ago and already has some 500 members aged from 5 to 17. Members are given free coaching throughout the year and are encouraged to put their newly acquired skills to the test on a regular basis in a range of cleverly structured competitions and ability assessments.
Alan McGregor, general manager of St Andrews Links Trust said, “We are delighted that Ernie Els has opened this new gallery, yet another element of the junior golf initiative in St Andrews.
“The junior golf association has been a tremendous community effort and has only been made possible through the support of local clubs, schools, professionals and parents.”
British Golf Museum www.britishgolfmuseum.co.uk