The Golf Foundation welcomed more than 4,000 youngsters to the R&A Junior Golf Centre in Hoylake’s tented village during the 135th Open Championship.
Children aged from five-years and up took part in noisy and active Tri-Golf sessions with the Foundation team; Tri-Golf is the modified golf game which reaches 300,000 primary and junior school children each year.
The busy week of fun was designed to highlight the progress made by the Golf Foundation over the course of the year, as its team of regional development officers works with local sports partnerships, schools, clubs and community groups to make golf more accessible for youngsters. The knock-on effect of this is helping to increase the junior memberships at golf clubs, which is part of the ‘Start’ activity in England Golf’s Whole Sport Plan.
Other attractions run by the Golf Foundation included the England Golf/PING Putting Challenge, in which over 3,000 visitors paid £1 to aim to win one of eight top-of-the-range PING putters, with all monies going to the Golf Foundation. Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst had a go himself and although he didn’t hole all three 12ft putts, he did win a golf ball with his final putt!
Paul was one of eight Tour professionals who gave up their time on the practice days at Hoylake to visit the Golf Foundation. They played Tri-Golf games with and against the children, with Ian Poulter drawing the largest crowd with his flamboyant style. All the players enjoyed plenty of cheers: those also taking part included Paul Broadhurst, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Brett Rumford, Niclas Fasth, Paul Lawrie, Simon Dyson, and Robert Karlsson.
Simon Dyson said afterwards, “It was fantastic playing Tri-Golf with the kids. Before arriving, I was fairly tired after practising, but this was a great tonic and I left feeling refreshed.”
A total of 32 school groups were special guests during the week, coming from local sports partnerships and from the wider northern region. Twenty-two schools visited from the Wirral, the children completing a summer-long project called ‘The Road to the Open’, which finished at the junior centre on the first day of The Open Championship. The winning school partnership, Pensby, was presented with its very own Claret Jug by Andrew Cross, Captain of Royal Liverpool, who later presented Tiger Woods with his championship trophy.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “This presentation summed up much of the spirit of the Golf Foundation activity at this year’s Open. Andrew Cross was delighted to present our trophy and his attitude, coupled with that of all the people involved in the school partnerships on the Wirral, shows how much people do care about grass roots golf development and helping children to get a start in golf.
“Thankfully, all this progress is not confined to the North West but also can be seen in more than 180 local sports partnerships with which the Golf Foundation is working.
“We would like to thank the R&A for giving the space and resources to help promote junior golf development during Open week. From our introducing Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme to schools and local sports partnerships all over the country, our growing role in increasing formal links between schools and golf clubs and our commitment to reaching children from all backgrounds, including those with special needs, The Open has offered a great platform for us to communicate these messages.”
Away from the Hoylake course, Anfield Stadium was the venue for The Open Championship Gala Dinner, in aid of the Golf Foundation. The Foundation teamed up with the British Golf Industry Association to create a special social/fundraising event for the tournament diary.
Stars from the world of sport rubbed shoulders with golf’s VIPs among the many trophies earned by Liverpool FC. Popular BBC broadcaster Dougie Donnelly hosted the evening, and presided over a charity auction and raffle which raised just under £20,000 for the Golf Foundation.
Throughout Open week the Golf Foundation was sharing the R&A Junior Golf Centre with the PGA. A team of PGA professionals was using the opportunity to give free golf lessons to an estimated 1,300 young golfers, which means that over 5,000 children enjoyed a golfing experience to remember at Hoylake.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org