GolfSixes North-East final shows potential of junior and family-friendly series; European Tour to welcome winners to British MastersThe recent North-East final round of ‘GolfSixes’ at Close House demonstrated the encouraging potential of the national league golf pilot project involving 32 clubs across seven regions of England. Run by the Golf Foundation, the project mirrors much of the new European Tour GolfSixes format (as seen at Centurion Club in May).
Many of the league matches have taken place at weekends and the support from parents has impressed the Golf Foundation team as the nationally recognised charity continues to look at new, innovative ways to create an exciting golf offer for families and aid the retention of juniors in golf clubs in support of England Golf. The GolfSixes Academy series has been supported enthusiastically by the European Tour (including using its GolfSixes branding), with funding from Sport England.
In this recent example at Close House in Northumberland, the club’s home team welcomed Morpeth GC, Bedlingtonshire GC and Ponteland GC to play the final matches in their league series, and a dramatic finish saw a tie between Ponteland and Morpeth, with Ponteland securing victory having won the final round’s match. One youngster, Samara from Bedlingtonshire Golf Club, raised the loudest cheer of the day with a hole-in-one on the 65-yard 5th on Close House’s Yearling Course. More than 40 parents came along to support the youngsters on the day.
The North-East final held extra significance because Close House is the chosen venue for the European Tour’s British Masters supported by Sky Sports, which takes place from September 28-October 1. The winning squad of 12 players from Ponteland Golf Club has now been invited along to the British Masters as guests of the European Tour, where they will be able to watch some of the world’s best golfers in action, meet top players and compare their new swings with those of the likes of tournament host Lee Westwood and his Ryder Cup teammates Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy.
The GolfSixes Academy project sees boys and girls playing inter-club matches taking aspects of the GolfSixes format as seen on TV on the European Tour; six players are in each team, playing six holes in a Texas Scramble against neighbouring clubs. Many children are playing on golf courses for the very first time.
The Golf Foundation is seeking to encourage competitive team golf for young players new to golf in junior sections, helping to instil a sense of belonging for the youngsters at club level while supported by the club PGA Professional, with the Pro helping them to prepare for each match.
The Foundation’s Regional Development Officers (RDOs) in the seven regions testing GolfSixes have also reported interest from parents who have expressed the desire to try golf for themselves in follow-up coaching.
Martin Crowder, National Development Manager for the Golf Foundation, said: “Every facet of the GolfSixes Academy project has been designed to encourage kids to get the most out of their new experience in a club junior section or academy. They are playing the exciting new format with European Tour GolfSixes branding, they are presented with their team shirts and playing against other local teams; in each case they are building up to the big match through learning and practice with their PGA Professional, while often enjoying the support of their parents on the golf course.
“Thanks to the support from the European Tour and Sport England we are delighted with the progress of this pilot project. It’s fantastic that with the British Masters taking place in the near future, some of our GolfSixes kids will now enjoy the bonus of watching the golf stars in action, which I’m sure will be highly inspiring for all concerned.”
* At the British Masters, under-16 children enjoy free entry with a parent or guardian; for ticket enquiries see britishmasters.europeantour.com
(Picture: Courtesy of John Millard)