A unique urban golf project in London, sponsored by Citi Group, is helping to demonstrate how ‘Golf Roots’ is reaching a new audience for the sport.
Just as the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor will be won with imagination, skill and teamwork, these attributes were being demonstrated perfectly by youngsters from East London as they played golf games at some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks.
From a straight-driving contest in the shadow of the Olympic stadium to a quick-fire shoot-out in Spitalfields Market, youngsters from a range of cultural backgrounds joined each other to play golf for fun. Six holes played in some crazy locations but which all required great skill, including the rooftop of the trendy Schwartz Gallery in Hackney Wick, the quiet green space of Jubilee Park in Canary Wharf and a bustling, active railway building site at the Wharf.
The national Golf Roots City Project is all about giving access to children in urban areas all over the country and involves thousands of boys and girls in 21 urban centres. As part of an expanded delivery of Golf Roots in the East London area, the Golf Foundation worked with the East London Business Alliance to put together this launch event – called ‘The Back Nine’ – that is developing unique ideas for the delivery of golf in an urban setting. The Back Nine is the excellent brainchild of Peter Welton of the East London Business Alliance and these good ideas can now be used nationwide.
The project has been funded by Citi Group and members of Citi’s staff volunteered for the event to supervise, encourage and compete against the youngsters in a Ryder Cup-style team format.
Brendon Pyle, National Development Manager for the Golf Foundation, said: “Golf Roots is all about including youngsters to try golf in their urban setting, and to work with their mentors to use available space in a fun and creative way, but playing proper golf shots, from putting to long game. This allegiance with the East London Business Alliance and Citi has allowed us to showcase this thinking in a particularly exciting way, using some fantastic venues.
“Golf Roots aims to appeal to all young people, including non golfers, and we’ll be able to take some of these ‘Back Nine’ urban ideas and apply them in all our other projects. The youngsters taking part here loved the edgy nature of the games. When we played our challenges in hectic places like Spitalfields Market, passing members of the public swarmed around the activity and really wanted to join in. That’s a great advertisement for Golf Roots. We’d like to thank Peter Welton for his creativity and drive on behalf of the East London Business Alliance and also Citi for their superb contributions in making this happen.”
So far, six holes of London’s ‘Back Nine’ have been completed and the final three holes will be played in a special event on the 27th September at Millennium Mill (Royal Victoria Dock); days before the Ryder Cup itself (on the day, media will be invited to attend to see whether the youngsters can beat the volunteers on the final hole!).
To further develop the Golf Roots project in this area, the Golf Foundation is looking to appoint an East London Golf Activator using funding from The European Tour so that in the build-up to the 2012 London Games, more children and young people in the East London area will be able to take part in Golf Roots activity.
Citi employees who volunteered on the day will now have the opportunity to be more involved with Golf Roots festivals and will receive training from the Golf Foundation.
Brendon Pyle added: “Citi’s volunteers on the day were tremendous. We were also brilliantly assisted by young volunteers from Tower Hamlets School Sport Partnership, who are all ‘PETAs’ (PE teaching assistants), and run clubs in East London for young people. This team also included our very own Golf Roots Ambassador, Helen Tang, from East London, who has been a great help.”
Golf Roots aims to reach one million youngsters per year by 2013. It 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. Individual donations are also important, like that of BBC radio presenter DJ Spoony, who has raised funds for the Golf Roots Cities Project over a number of years.
Golf Roots www.golf-foundation.org