The Golf Foundation heralded Open Championship week a success at Carnoustie, helping to raise the profile of junior grass roots golf and introduce new young players into the game.
The R&A provided the R&A Junior Golf Centre, a prime venue in the tented village, where Golf Foundation development officers were able to show visiting children Tri-Golf, the fun, modified golf game for youngsters aged five and up. Organised groups of children came from the Scottish regions, many having their very first hit with a club.
A number were lucky enough to be present when the Golf Foundation welcomed visiting Tour golfers who were all competing at The Open. Arron Oberholser and Brett Quigley from the US, England’s Ian Poulter, Graeme Storm, Peter Baker, Ross Fisher, and Kevin Harper, and Jose-Filipe Lima from Portugal, all played Tri-Golf games with the children which involved relays and quick-fire shoot-outs.
Another key attraction was the PING sponsored clubgolf ‘Putting Challenge’. For the whole week children had the chance to show their putting skills while raising money for the Golf Foundation. Each day a top-of-the-range PING putter was won by a youngster who could hole three consecutive 12 ft putts after donating £1. More than £2,000 was raised in this way.
Similarly, a spot-the-ball competition held at the centre raised just under £300, as visitors studied a photograph of a Paul Casey tee shot during the Ryder Cup, and hoped to win a special set of commemorative Mizuno irons.
Away from the course, the Golf Foundation held a glittering Gala Dinner in Dundee, attended by VIPs from the world of golf. The highlight of the night was hosting nine-times major winner Gary Player as guest of honour. The Foundation presented Mr Player with its inaugural ‘Spirit of Golf Award’, in recognition of his services to golf development all over the world, which includes work with the national golf partnerships and the Golf Foundation in the UK.
Ken Schofield CBE, President of the Golf Foundation, spoke of the “wonderful inspiration” that Player has given to so many, and the South African talked of the “great honour” in receiving the award.
The rest of the evening was a fundraising hit for the Foundation, as games, an auction and a raffle helped reach a net income for the night of £16,500.
Much of the week was about supporters helping the Golf Foundation in its cause of attracting as many youngsters to the game as possible and helping them to stay in the game.
DJ Spoony is the ambassador and main funder of the Foundation’s Golf Roots programme, a scheme supported by the European Tour which is introducing sustainable golf projects to seven inner city areas this year, providing golf opportunities for youngsters from all backgrounds and abilities. Spoony visited the Junior Centre, led a session of Tri-Golf with the youngsters and talked to the Foundation team about Golf Roots progress for the rest of the summer.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “DJ Spoony showed, just as the Tour players had done, that he cares deeply about helping youngsters to find their way in golf. All the players and Spoony were fantastic and an inspiration to the youngsters and also our staff.
“The Open was a highly successful week in terms of showcasing what the Golf Foundation does in schools, communities and golf clubs all through the year.
“We have a lot of people to thank for their help. PING’s putting challenge was a great success for a third year. Manufacturers Titleist, Cobra and TaylorMade-adidas worked hard to bring us the players, Mizuno provided a great prize, and the BBC was highly supportive in its coverage of our work. Gary Player deserves a special thank you for speaking so well at our Gala dinner.
“But none of this would have been possible without the support of The R&A, which stages The Open. Apart from being a major financial supporter, each year The R&A provides the space and facilities for the Junior Centre. We are highly appreciative of this opportunity to welcome so many youngsters to the centre, who will hopefully embrace golf as they grow up and enjoy the sport for life.”
During The Open, the Foundation was sharing the R&A Junior Golf Centre with the PGA. A team of PGA professionals gave free lessons to visiting youngsters for the whole week, as part of the organisation’s commitment to junior golf.
In Scotland, the Golf Foundation supports clubgolf, the national partnership which aims to create, by 2009, the opportunity for every child to have an introduction to golf by the time they are nine years old. Supporting this aim, the Foundation welcomed many clubgolf groups to the Junior Centre during Open Championship week.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org