Over 500 children faced the judges this weekend, as golf’s first X-Factor style auditions kicked off in spectacular fashion at Playgolf Manchester. And with their families looking on the ‘Tiger Hunt’ auditionees didn’t disappoint, as 66 golf-mad youngsters aged 7-14 made it through to Boot Camp, the next stage in the competition.
Just as in the TV talent show ‘X-Factor’, ‘Tiger Hunt’ hopefuls went through a nerve-wracking audition in front of four judges – hitting three golf balls instead of singing a song.
The judges were: former international footballer and TV pundit Les Ferdinand; Setanta Sports presenter, Charlotte Jackson; chairman of selectors for GB&I junior golf Peter McEvoy OBE; and Playgolf Manchester general manager, Craig Whitfield.
“It was an emotional weekend,” said celebrity judge Les Ferdinand. “You could see how much it meant to the kids, they were incredibly brave to stand up there and hit three shots in front of the judges. Rather them than me! Every one of them deserved a medal, and we think we have found some brilliant golfing talents among the 66 Boot Camp qualifiers.”
The event – believed to be the biggest-ever ‘golf audition’ to be held in the UK – took place at the Playgolf Manchester golf complex on 27-28 September.
‘Tiger Hunt’ is an initiative to unearth a single 7-14 year old in the North West on England who has what it takes to succeed in golf’s professional ranks.
The winning child will receive a year’s free golf lessons, a new set of golf clubs and golf clothing, plus a year’s free membership at a local golf club.
Celebrity judge Charlotte Jackson said, “I have so much respect for every single boy and girl that stood up and hit golf balls in front of us. Having faced a few auditions myself, I can tell you that what they did took huge courage! The weekend flew by, and there were some real stand-out characters among the 500 children. It was one of the best golf events I think I have ever seen.”
‘Tiger Hunt’ judge Peter McEvoy will be monitoring the winning young golfer’s progress during 2009, in case he or she shows the potential to break through onto the world stage.
“This weekend was the single most thrilling demonstration of junior golf that I have seen in over forty years in the game,” said McEvoy. “I think we have hit upon something quite amazing here. In just three swings of a golf club, under pressure, you could see the raw talent instantly. I’m very excited about the future of ‘Tiger Hunt’; it is something which we plan to develop much, much further over the next few years.”
Including families, over 1,500 people attended the ‘Tiger Hunt‘ event.
“This was a monumentally successful weekend for Playgolf Manchester,” said general manager, Craig Whitfield. “Literally hundreds of families visited us for the first time, and although we could only put a fraction of the kids through to ‘Boot Camp’, every one of the auditionees took away a goody bag, and there weren’t too many tears.
“We were originally looking for just 40 ‘Boot Camp’ qualifiers, but so many amazing young golfers turned up that we ended up putting far more through. ‘Boot Camp’ will be a special month: we have 7 and 8 year old boys and girls in there who had never held a golf club before this weekend, right through to low-handicap 14 year olds who have a real chance of becoming Tour pros within a few years.
“Our golf pros and the rest of the team here at Playgolf Manchester worked their fingers to the bone to keep our customers happy, and I think we have proven once and for all that we are the North West’s #1 place to improve your golf. We are all going into the autumn on a real high.”
From the weekend’s open auditions, 66 talented young golfers progressed to ‘Boot Camp’ – four weeks of intensive tuition at the Playgolf Academy, based at Playgolf Manchester, taking place on the weekends of 11/12, 18/19, 25/26 October and 01/02 November.
At ‘Boot Camp’, Playgolf’s coaches are looking for the 12 youngsters who show the most determination, strength of character and golfing ability. The 12 will then compete in the ’Tiger Hunt’ Grand Final in November 2008, again at Playgolf Manchester.
Playgolf Manchester (www.manchestergolf.co.uk) is the North West’s favourite golf facility, with unbeatable golf teaching and golf practice packages for golfers of all standards. It is a key part of Playgolf’s mission to provide advanced public sports facilities throughout the UK. Its spectacular design has made it a local landmark loved and used by tens of thousands of golfers in the North West every year.
The Playgolf Academy at Playgolf Manchester is one of the UK’s largest golf teaching centres, coaching over 1,000 pupils every month. Its luxury golf driving range has 64 golf driving bays, and 4 state-of-the-art video teaching studios. There is also a relaxing cafà© bar there, plus meeting facilities and an american golf superstore, selling all the latest golf equipment. Playgolf Manchester is located at junction 10 of the M60, right across the road from the shops at The Trafford Centre.
Playgolf Manchester www.manchestergolf.co.uk