The Open Championship’s return to Hoylake after 39 years has helped to spark a summer to remember for children new to golf all over the Wirral. Tri-Golf activities in the classroom, golf festivals, and special educational needs golf events have all been held, and at Hoylake on 20th July, more than 130 young golfers will represent their schools as they conclude their own ‘Road to the Open’.
Young boys and girls from the Wirral will bring their plastic Tri-Golf clubs to the R&A Junior Golf Centre in Hoylake’s tented village to play a series of games as guests of the R&A and the Golf Foundation.
The Road to the Open hasn’t just been a matter of playing the Golf Foundation’s Tri-Golf game in PE; the children have also been talking about golf and what The Open all means to the area during their lessons (Tri-Golf numeracy and literacy worksheets have also been successfully used in classroom teaching in the run-up to The Open). This activity is part of the Golf Foundation’s commitment to take Tri-Golf – officially adopted by England Golf – directly into more than 50 schools on the Wirral, working together with four local sports partnerships to deliver the initiative.
Nationally, the Foundation works with more than 180 local sports partnerships in this way.
At the Pensby partnership, local to Hoylake, Golf Foundation regional development officer, Phillip Beard, has worked closely with the partnership development manager, Dan Keefe, and Chris Gill, PGA professional and owner of Moreton Hills Golf Centre.
Chris came up with the idea of the ‘Road to the Open’ and has been preparing children in all the schools for an Open Championship Tri-Golf challenge. Joining Chris in these sessions has been Derek Mountfield, the former Everton FC defender, and now a respected multi-sport coach.
In all, 136 children will enjoy the big day at Hoylake, in teams of six children from 21 schools, playing a series of Tri-Golf games on the Thursday, at the same time the tournament-proper is taking place. The winning school team will even receive its very own Claret Jug.
Phillip Beard said, “Perhaps the most important part of this whole initiative is the lasting focus given to golf in these schools, thus involving many children in the future. Teachers and volunteers have all been trained to continue to deliver Tri-Golf, both as a fun activity and a learning resource for the classroom.
Another key aspect of the continuing sports partnerships is the encouragement to get children with special educational needs playing Tri-Golf, something that has been demonstrably beneficial to development for many of these children.”
At The Open event, a group of children with special educational needs will enjoy Tri-Golf games and recently a Special Educational Needs Festival was held at Moreton Hills Golf Centre. Around 80 children from five schools took part after four weeks of Tri-Golf training from Chris Gill and Derek Mountfield. The project was a joint partnership between Wirral Borough Council’s Sports Development Unit, Chris Gill, with funding and support from the Golf Foundation.
Dawn Tolcher, Wirral Council’s disability officer, said, “The children have clearly loved this first taste of golf. Tri-Golf Activator training has also been given to teachers in our schools, so many more special needs children will benefit in the time to come.”
Other fun golfing events were also staged in the build-up to The Open. Wirral Borough Council held a successful Super Festival for Tri-Golf in March, involving more than 100 children. Greasby Junior School pupils became so excited by Tri-Golf and the approaching Open Championship that staff cut and shaped their very own Tri-Golf course in the school grounds, holding the first Greasby Open Championship.
Finally, on 3rd July, the Pensby Sports College Golf Xtreme Festival took place at Moreton Hills Golf Centre. Golf Xtreme is a new development inspired by the Golf Foundation, a golf game and teaching resource for 11-16 year-olds, and a version of golf that can be played quickly, with great flexibility and as a team sport.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org