More than 8,000 youngsters from 42 counties took part in the largest ever British school golf project this summer. On Wednesday 6th July after local, county and regional stages, 11 teams of boys and girls relished the atmosphere of Loughborough University for the Golf Roots Primary School Competition Final.
While Britain’s best adult players were ready to make a strong challenge for The Open Championship next week, some of the best Tri-Golf players in England and Scotland (aged 8-11) played high-paced team games which, as well as testing their long-game and chipping and putting skills, also had an emphasis on the ‘Skills for Life’ that golf promotes, including respect, co-operation, honesty and perseverance.
Golf Roots is run by leading golf charity the Golf Foundation and aims to reach one million youngsters a year by 2013. The programme works to create sustainable links between schools and golf clubs and driving ranges in support of the national plans for the development of the game in England, Scotland and Wales.
With constantly increasing participation figures for Golf Roots, and supported by the key governing bodies of the game, this Loughborough final served as a major showcase for Golf Roots and its encouragement of youngsters from all backgrounds and circumstances.
When the final ball had been struck after nearly three hours of frantic shot-making against the clock, the accolade of ‘British Golf Roots Champions’ went to the ‘East Midlands’ team, from Osmaston CE Primary School, in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. The second placed team was ‘North East’, from the Chester le Street Multi Skills Academy, and third place was ‘South West’, from St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Gloucester.
Just as relevant as the award for technical skills was the day’s Skill for Life prize, which fostered and measured the players’ levels of encouragement and respect for one another as well as their ability to follow key rules that keep them safe when playing golf. The award went to the boys and girls of team ‘North West’, from Willaston CE Primary School in Cheshire, who showed exemplary respect for other competitors throughout the day.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “This was a fantastic day for all the youngsters present, who were all winners as they had progressed so well through to this national final. We would like to thank all the people at local level, including young volunteers, teachers, PGA professionals, partnership managers and also the Youth Sport Trust, who are all working with us as we help to increase participation numbers in schools.
“Following our Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme initiatives golf has become one of ten ‘priority sports’ in schools and that is a great achievement when less than a decade ago many teachers and head teachers thought golf to be elitist and unworkable in schools. Over 10,000 teachers, volunteers and PGA coaches have been trained over the last five years.
“It was perhaps fitting that in the week before The Open Championship itself, these boys and girls were so clearly demonstrating all the attributes needed to be a national champion.”
Teachers and parents supported the event. One parent said afterwards: “I travelled down to the final at Loughborough, as my daughter’s school was representing the North West. What a brilliant event, the organisation was so professional. Thank you to all the organisers for their hard work and thank you for a great memory.”
Golf Roots has some heavyweight support from The R&A, The European Tour, the Ryder Cup, the PGA, the BGIA, England Golf and Sport England. A further amount of money has been made available from the Ryder Cup Trust.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org