Golf Foundation celebrates growing the game for girls during Solheim Cup week

More girls are playing golf thanks to GolfSixes
Girls from Lincolnshire and Yorkshire will play in special GolfSixes League day at Elsham Golf Club this weekend to mark the Solheim Cup between Europe and the USA at Gleneagles. Picture by LEADERBOARD PHOTOGRAPHY

THE Golf Foundation is celebrating girls’ golf in style during this week’s Solheim Cup at Gleneagles, while supporting the iconic match between Europe and the USA, which starts on Friday.

For the whole week, the Golf Foundation team will be highlighting the positive steps taken by its supporters to grow the game for girls.

It will also ask what more can be done to promote the playing, health and social benefits of the sport for girls.

The charity is staging a trio of special events in support of the Solheim Cup and Team Europe.

Teeing-off the week of international celebrations around the Gleneagles area, Scotland’s GolfSixes League Final was held at nearby Muckhart Golf Club, with 16 teams of boys and girls from across Scotland.

GolfSixes League is a Golf Foundation programme involving 260 golf clubs and 3,000 youngsters in England, Scotland and Wales – around 33 per cent of players are girls.

Scottish Golf has made GolfSixes League such a success that with additional support from the 2019 Solheim Cup Development Group, the number of mixed golf club teams taking part will increase from 67 this year, to 100 in 2020.

Golf was also celebrated in a unique ‘Solheim Cup takeover’, on Sunday as 59 girls from clubs in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire played GolfSixes at Elsham Golf Club.

Older girls have been specially trained to support the youngsters, helping to increase their leadership experience while backed throughout by adult volunteers.

The day was all about learning and fun, with plenty of other attractions including face-painting, a fun photo booth, activity stands, a pick ’n’ mix stall and plenty more.

A similar Solheim Cup themed day will end this special week on Sunday, September 15, on the final day of the biennial match which is the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup.

In this case, teams of girls from Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Middlesex are invited to Golf World Stanstead for a GolfSixes League competition and fun activities including a “Mega Putt Challenge” for all the 50 girls invited.

Stacey Mitchell, who heads girls’ golf for the Golf Foundation, said: “These three GolfSixes League events will all be particularly special as they take place in a celebratory week for girls’ golf alongside the Solheim Cup.

“These matches, and our work that we will be promoting throughout the week on social media, serve to highlight how all the activity of the Golf Foundation, from school and community golf to regular play in golf clubs, has a stronger focus on girls than ever before.

“The charity is proactively working to encourage more girls to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in golf and love the sport.

“From offering leadership training to empower more girls as leaders, to working with our ambassadors Meghan MacLaren and Felicity Johnson to promote girls’ golf nationally, we want to continue to make a positive difference going forwards.

“From ensuring that school golf teams, and club GolfSixes League teams, pick girls alongside the boys, and funding PGA Professionals at our junior friendly clubs to coach more girls, to working with Brownies and Guide groups, we are seeking to innovate to build momentum.

“We also recognise a great deal more needs to be done to grow participation and this week of activity will highlight this.”

The Golf Foundation’s ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme has created positive results in the last year with regard to girls’ participation. These include:

•A 48 per cent increase in the number of girls visiting a golf club

•The generation of 3,422 new affiliated golf club junior members including 23 per cent girls

•Thirty-three per cent of GolfSixes League players have been girls, with two girls-only leagues in Lincolnshire and Essex

•The Foundation trained more than 200 new Girls Golf Rocks ambassadors with England Golf, while in schools, the charity requests 50 per cent of all school teams are girls for games they play.

The Golf Foundation is following closely its stated pledge as a signatory of The R&A Women in Golf Charter.

The R&A is the charity’s strongest supporter as the two bodies seek to inspire more youngsters into playing golf and to increase the retention of juniors within the sport to boost membership at clubs.

For the week ahead now, the foundation’s team looks forward to supporting the Ladies European Tour and its players throughout the Solheim Cup.

The charity will also be asking its supporters and others in golf to share positive stories about encouraging more girls to enjoy the benefits of golf.

#SolheimCupCelebration and #GrowingGirlsGolf will be among the hashtags deployed on social media in what should be an exciting week for all involved, said a Golf Foundation spokesman.