GOLFSIXES Leagues have been hailed as a “game-changer” by the Golf Foundation in attracting new young players and families to the game.
There has been almost a 50 per cent increase in the number signing up as club junior members in England in 2019, according to new figures from the golf charity.
The GolfSixes League format – played over six holes – saw 2,676 boys and girls from 233 clubs in England, Scotland and Wales take part last year.
They competed in 52 junior leagues, with a 49 per cent increase in junior membership at 161 clubs in England – with a 35 per cent increase across England, Scotland and Wales.
The exciting new format was also trialled in Ireland for the first time in the last year.
Golf Foundation research found 59 per cent of parents volunteered to help at league fixtures (38 per cent of whom were non-golfers).
And 88 per cent of family members thought the format was “fun” and more than 80 per cent would like to play more golf.
Encouragingly, GolfSixes is attracting large number of females to take up golf with 28 per cent of all players being girls.
The Golf Foundation urges clubs to field mixed teams wherever possible, and is eager to increase that percentage going forward.
GolfSixes brings in £300 a match
Golf Foundation chief executive Brendon Pyle said: “With the help of Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. providing insight into what makes a great experience for juniors and their families at a golf club, GolfSixes League was designed to help more budding golfers involved in PGA coaching schemes to engage with both the sport and the golf club – and continue as regular golfers.
“We are delighted with the membership figures and the strong interest from non-golfing families.
“The average income from food and beverage at a GolfSixes League fixture has been £300 – a strong indicator of the wider impact of the initiative on the golf club.
“All our feedback suggests GolfSixes Leagues now offers a real opportunity to help change the perceptions of golf among the wider public, which is priceless for the sport and a possible game changer.”
•To read the full report on GolfSixes League research click here.
How GolfSixes can restore some normality for golf clubs after coronavirus crisis . . .
THE Golf Foundation believes the industry can look forward to GolfSixes helping to bring some normality back to clubs struggling with the huge economic impact of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Golf Foundation chief executive Brendan Pyle said: “Looking forward, it is anticipated that when returning to play golf is possible again – once the coronavirus restrictions are lifted – there will be 98 GolfSixes Leagues across the four Home Nations.”
With 484 golf clubs ready to take part – there will also be smaller trials held in new areas – a total of 6,600 youngsters are expected to take part this year.
On a typical weekend, squads of 12 boys and girls practise together with their PGA coaches before playing other clubs in matches in which they wear coloured team shirts.
The Foundation recognises the coaching build-up and togetherness has appealed to children and parents who experience the same process in football, rugby and hockey – but less so at golf clubs.
The Texas-scramble element of the game allows for all abilities within the same team, as the youngsters all get to play from optimum positions on the course.
The initiative was first launched with the support of Sport England. Matches took place predominantly at HSBC Golf Roots Centres – junior-friendly golf clubs supported by the Golf Foundation.
Now GolfSixes is spreading to more and more clubs in all parts of the country thanks to “substantial investment” from The R&A, the endorsement of the European Tour, and operational support from the four Home Nations, says the Golf Foundation.
Every GolfSixes League player gets three Titleist balls
Every child taking part also receives three golf balls from Titleist – a key supporter of the charity.
Mr Pyle, who heads the Hertfordshire-based charity, added: “We have been further buoyed by the very generous support of The R&A, the charity’s strongest supporter, and the endorsement of our friends at the European Tour.
“Both organisations clearly recognise the potential of GolfSixes League as we work alongside England Golf, Scottish Golf, Wales Golf and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland.”
•For more detail on GolfSixes League go to http:// www.golf-foundation.org