Attracting more young people into the game remains a vital element of our strategy and Scottish Golf continued to make a difference at club level in 2017 with support for junior golf through the national ClubGolf programme.
Encouragingly, overall participation in ClubGolf coaching increased by 11% on the previous year with the Highland region in particular showing impressive results. Golf is growing in popularity in some of the remotest parts of the country as participation figures across Highland, Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles and Moray grew by 10%. The proportion of girls involved in the North was also above the national trend at 25%, with Shetland and Moray clubs recording more than 30% of its ClubGolf participants being girls.
Down in Scotland’s capital city, one club stands out for their junior set-up. Indeed, the hard work, two-and-a-half-years to be precise, has paid off in some style at Mortonhall Golf Club.
Impressively, the junior numbers at the Edinburgh club are now at their ‘maximum’ of 130, after adding 100 juniors in just a two-year period. It’s been a job well done for junior convenor, Steve Hobson, and all at the club.
Steve tells the story: “After we spoke to Mandy Martin (Scottish Golf Regional Club Development Officer for Central) and I went on a junior convenor course, I realised that success depends on the club, the culture at the club and the support you receive.
“I noticed that a lot of clubs were putting a lot of their efforts into really young children, but they were struggling to convert them into membership. I spoke to Mandy about that and felt we needed to cover the whole breadth, a junior section covering every age group, which is ongoing. We have a ClubGolf section and we offer them membership, with a path then all the way through the juniors and the various age groups.
“We have now ended up with a waiting list, which is incredible as it is way above what we actually targeted. We have a full 130 junior members and that’s thanks to the combined efforts of many within the club. It’s been like a snowball effect, with the junior section at Mortonhall seen as a place to go and enjoy the game. The kids have been going to school and talking about it, bringing their pals along. What it has proved to me is that if you can get kids along to the club they love it.”
Further development of their 5-hole junior course, a pitch and putt style layout, has helped facilitate the growth in the juniors. “With us expanding so quickly, we knew we were going to have a lot of untested golfers who didn’t know the rules and so forth, so we have created quizzes to help, with prizes at the end,” added Steve. “We also have our short course, and members take players on out on the course, sometimes for three holes. There is no one formula for me to it all – it’s trying the things that work for you.”
Another Lothians clubs, Broomieknowe, put more attention on their transition from ClubGolf coaching into junior membership in 2017, again with encouraging results. Participation in junior competitions doubled; junior membership increased by 50% and the number of juniors with a handicap grew by 33%.
In June, Peebles’ reputation as one of the country’s most progressive clubs was further enhanced with the official opening of its new driving range. Working with Regional Club Development Officer Lesley Nicholson, the club were able to access funding from sportscotland’s Awards for All programme and the Scottish Golf Club Development Fund, adding to money they’d raised locally to generate the budget required to build the impressive new facilities, which includes 3 indoor bays, 6 outdoor bays and a state-of-the-art swing studio used by PGA pro Steve Johnston.
The club boasts a flourishing junior programme, winning the title of Scotland’s Junior Club of the Year in 2015, and now attracts an average of over 60 children every Sunday across its three coaching sessions, with junior membership in the ascendancy and the implementation of the innovative ’18 Steps’ programme to bridge the gap between ClubGolf and junior competition play.
Scottish Golf’s work between clubs and schools also continues to yield results, helped by our team of Regional School and Community officers. Scotscraig GC engaged 50 additional children through its school and community links, with more than 30 converted into junior membership. Carnoustie have been making great strides, as assistant pro Keir McNicoll, supported by the recruitment of 21 volunteer coaches, establishing a joint-club membership for juniors.
Last year also saw a ground-breaking education project in South Lanarkshire, helping young people develop through interdisciplinary learning – with golf included. Chapelton Primary School, Broadlees Golf, South Lanarkshire Active Schools and Scottish Golf are working together on the pilot project. It is the first of its kind in Scotland, linking with the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence through broader general education, and with a progressive structured golf pathway to Broadlees Junior Golf Academy.
One size doesn’t fit all, but with an array of best practice case studies across the country involved clubs of all shapes and sizes, there is a model that can work for your club.