Strathmore Golf Centre is welcoming more young players through its doors thanks to a popular club hire scheme that has been “a dream come true” for one man.
The brainchild of junior convenor, Iain Butchart, some four years ago, the scheme is helping make golf more affordable for budding golfers at the Perthshire venue – and encouraging them into membership. Last year, for example, the club attracted 15 new junior members.
Butchart, who has been in his position for eight years, works with a PGA pro to provide 17 hours of free coaching to juniors over the season, while annual fees have been kept affordable to encourage membership. However, Butchart felt the cost of buying clubs was another challenge for parents, and often watched children arrive with adult cut down, ill fitting or heavy clubs.
Iain takes up the story: “I had a brainwave and it appeared feasible as long as I could raise some capital to fund the scheme. SSE Drumderg Wind Farm Community Fund Scheme was looking for local projects to sponsor, so I completed their application form and was delighted when they agreed to invest and so I set up the scheme and waited to see what would happen.”
Butchart secured an initial overall investment of £1,800 (aided in principle by the community fund scheme) and initially bought 12 junior sets and two ladies’ sets. Stock, including trolleys, has been added to in recent years, to offer plentiful options for aspiring players.
Iain continues: “I set hire charges at £25 per annum per set and recently added trolley hire at £5 per annum and have so far brought income of over £800, plus we have the original 17 sets and another 10 sets which have been donated.”
For Strathmore, it’s been an amazing success, and “a dream come true” for Iain.
“The scheme means juniors can try golf with a minimum cost by hiring and not buying clubs,” he notes. “Last year, of the 15 new members (nine boys and six girls), eight of them joined the club hire scheme. We now have a total of 15 girls at Strathmore, which certainly bucks the national trend.”
Iain Evans, Scottish Golf Club Development Officer for the region, added: “Under Iain’s stewardship, Strathmore has built a very reputable junior coaching program and active junior membership. The junior club hire program is very innovative and really makes it easy for new juniors to learn the game without having to outlay on a set of clubs in the short term.
“I look forward to supporting Iain and the club to continue to build on all the good work they have done so far to develop junior golf at Strathmore Golf Centre.”
During his time as junior convenor, Iain has watched the development of two PGA Assistant Professionals, two current Scottish Junior Internationalists, three American University scholarship students, three current Scottish Academy players and various County Champions at both junior and adult County level.
With the club hire scheme firmly in place, more success could be just around the corner.