THE Golf Foundation has called on clubs not to forget junior golfers as they open for the first weekend’s play in some two months.
The charity, which works closely with PGA club professionals to introduce youngsters into the sport, wants to ensure they are not forgotten as members rush out to play golf again this weekend.
Many juniors attend special coaching clinics and sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, and – outside of school holidays – are far less likely to spend time at golf clubs during the week.
The Golf Foundations is desperate to help promote a safe return to the game for juniors in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Hertfordshire-based charity has issued guidance to clubs and PGA pro’s to help them ensure the kids are not forgotten after lockdown.
Under the heading of ‘Don’t forget our young golfers!,’ a key message for all clubs is to ensure junior members involved in coaching programmes are given fair access to play the course.
The new guidelines set out ways juniors can be welcomed back to the course, with an emphasis on safety, inclusion, club and parental support.
They also address fairness in play for youngsters, while encouraging non-golfing parents to learn about the game and their local club – the latter potentially growing family interest in golf with new audiences.
Golf Foundation chairman Stephen Lewis said: “Our charity is all about offering opportunity to young players and encouraging everyone at golf clubs to support their development.
“We understand that tee times will be at a premium at present. The adults quite rightly want to get back out there on the fairways, hence today’s message: ‘Don’t forget our young golfers!’
‘Youngsters help keep golf thriving’
“The importance of accessing the course for children has been demonstrated through our initiatives such as GolfSixes League, which have created a love of the game, a desire to play more golf and ultimately an increase in junior membership at golf clubs.
“It’s vitally important that these children and juniors continue to access the game even in this time of restrictions in order to keep golf thriving.”
The Government changed its “Stay Home, Stay Safe” message to allow golfers to play in two-balls with someone from outside their family, or to have a round of golf with two members of their family., from Wednesday this week.
Hundreds of golf clubs in England were able to open, although the Welsh and Scottish Governments, and the Stormont cabinet in Northern Ireland, left restrictions in place, forcing clubs to remain shut because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 32,000 lives in the UK.
With juniors requiring supervision when allowed out on to the course – meaning they would have to play with one adult – and restrictions in place regarding use of driving ranges and practice facilities, the need for safety measures and social distancing is clear.
The head of the Golf Foundation added: “Our new guidelines emphasise the need for safety.
“With this paramount in all our thinking and actions, our sport actually provides a great opportunity for children to enjoy all of golf’s accepted health benefits – while other options are currently closed to them and their families.
“This is now a chance for the sport to engage with new audiences, with the right encouragement,” said Mr Lewis.
GolfSixes Leagues led the way
THE Golf Foundation introduced just under 50,000 young players to golf clubs across England, Scotland and Wales, in 2019.
From the 364 fixtures held last year, 38 per cent of parents were non-golfers who enjoyed a “warm welcome” at golf clubs across the country, the Foundation’s research found.
Mr Lewis added: “We must continue to encourage new families into the sport.”
The guidelines have been sent to clubs and PGA coaches in the Golf Foundation network.
* Find out more about the Golf Foundation’s work at www.golf-foundation.org