Keen surfer Alex MacGregor is on the crest of a wave after the efforts of six PGA pros to encourage children from riot-torn Croydon to try golf were recognised by a leading golfing charity.
MacGregor, a PGA pro at Addington Court, Croydon, who grew up in the surfing mecca of Perranporth in Cornwall, is a member of the Surrey HSBC Golf Roots Programme that won the Golf Foundation’s Critchley Award. Likewise the five other PGA Professionals at the club.
The award, for the best major project, was presented at Wentworth yesterday during the Foundation’s annual prize-giving ceremony.
The county-wide project involved 25 PGA Professionals from 15 different golf facilities who, supported by a number of trained leaders, ran Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme sessions in 90 primary and 17 secondary schools.
The activity involved 6,300 youngsters, almost half of which were girls. In addition, almost 1,000 pupils received follow-on coaching in the clubs and 81 youngsters have already become new junior members as a result.
“The HSBC Golf Roots project is very strong in schools here as part of the School Games,” said Golf Foundation chief executive Mike Round.
“And Surrey’s County Golf Partnership has been an excellent supporter of the Golf Foundation’s aim to reach more youngsters through golf and help instil the Skills for Life benefits of the game.”
Meanwhile, Addington Court, which welcomed 60 per cent of the children who received school taster sessions back for beginner coaching, was described by Round as ‘the star of the show’.
MacGregor, who trained at the club to become a PGA Professional before qualifying last year, said: “Simon Shepherd, Paul Oliver, myself and the three other pros have worked hard with Surrey Golf Partnership, the Golf Foundation and Croydon Schools Golf Partnership to try and give a pathway to children to get into the sport.
“We’ve worked with 3,000 plus school children over the last three years by giving them taster sessions in the schools. Then we’ve given them affordable options at our golf centre to encourage them to carry on. It’s been a great success.”
Croydon is a world away from Perranporth where MacGregor learned to play golf at the local club as well as surf but he is relishing the experience of working there and teaching youngsters.
He added: “It was a great place to grow up but Croydon offers a different lifestyle and a challenge. It’s got a bad name after the riots of two years ago and a lot of the kids have not had the opportunity to try golf.
“And I love what I’m doing – teaching kids, especially the ones who wouldn’t have had the chance of playing golf beforehand.
“The help we’ve given them helps them develop their life skills and carry on with the sport. There’s definitely a pathway within our golf club for them to follow the different coaching packages and membership schemes.
“These are affordable – it’s just £75 a year to play on three different golf courses. It’s great to see them develop.
“We’ve worked hard to get them back to our place and now 100 a week are coming to our for 12 different coaching sessions. We also run three festivals, an order of merit and 50 events a year.
“There’s something for everyone but we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with them without the help from the schools and the Golf Foundation.”
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