Back in 1951, Jack Burroughs of British Steel Golf Shafts perceived that the sport of golf was facing a potential crisis in falling participation and playing standards. Determined to help reverse this trend, he consulted with a number of interested parties, including the famous golf correspondent Henry Longhurst, who believed a solution was to become active in the schools.
At around the same time, three-time Open Champion Henry Cotton was holding meetings with Raymond Oppenheimer and Cyril Gray to try to find solutions to the very same problems. With Burroughs’ support Cotton undertook a lecture and demonstration at two schools. The feedback convinced them they were on the right track and thus was born the core activity of the Golf Foundation, which was to make possible golf instruction in schools via a process of fundraising and subsidy.
By August 1953, 108 schools had registered for Golf Foundation instruction, representing around 3,500 young people becoming actively involved in the sport of golf. We currently reach over 2,500 schools across Great Britain & Ireland and introduce over 225,000 young people to golf each year.
The Golf Foundation may have evolved into the progressive organisation it is today, ‘helping young people to enjoy the playing and personal benefits of golf’, but it has never departed from its original ideal of growing participation levels, with strong relationships with schools being a key starting point. With the help of our President, Nick Dougherty, we now have the exciting ambition of reaching every school in Great Britain & Ireland and teaching mental toughness at the heart of our Unleash Your Drive programme.
Along the way, many people have made important contributions, not least thousands of volunteers from golf clubs, schools and the community. Leading golfers of today, including Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Nick Dougherty, can all recall Golf Foundation help in their own coaching, while golf stars including Tom Watson, Rory McIlroy, Laura Davies, Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Clarke, Alison Nicholas, Colin Montgomerie, Luke Donald and most recently Georgia Hall have played introductory Golfway with youngsters at our events, all to inspire the next generation of players (see more, left). We hope fellow professional Sir Henry Cotton would have approved!