Open Championship encourages more juniors into golfThe Golf Foundation has applauded The R&A’s policy of welcoming young people with free entry to Carnoustie as a “wonderful opportunity” for junior grass roots golf. Children aged 16 and under were given free entry with a paying adult at the 147th Open Championship.
The nationally recognised junior golf charity is working in partnership with The R&A to help young people from all backgrounds and abilities to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport and enjoy all the benefits of golf. The R&A is a significant and long-term supporter of this charity.
For the whole week in the ‘R&A SwingZone’ at Carnoustie, as the kids played Tri-Golf and chipping games, and all ages enjoyed the ‘Putting Challenge’ supported by Titleist, the accent was on engaging with youngsters and their families, as the Golf Foundation, Scottish Golf and the PGA all worked together to inspire children new to the sport.
In recent independent research, 70% of young golfers stated that they would like to attend more golf events. Several thousand youngsters attended Golf Foundation activity at The Open and this was largely possible because of The R&A’s ‘Kids go Free’ initiative, which allowed those aged 16 and under free entry to the course.
The Golf Foundation team was able to welcome European Tour stars competing in The Open, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Wallace (visits arranged by PING), and former Open Champion Paul Lawrie (Foundation Spirit of Golf Award winner 2018). These players gave up their time to play Tri-Golf challenges with three groups of youngsters from nearly 20 Scottish clubs in the region who were the Foundation’s guests during the week. Children were also able to have free lessons from a team of PGA professionals who were present all week to coach junior golfers and adults.
The Golf Foundation’s national programme is called HSBC Golf Roots and reaches 500,000 young people each year, creating a pathway from schools to golf clubs.
During the week and on ‘Open Saturday’, HSBC ambassadors Tim Henman and Brian O’Driscoll joined forces with the Golf Foundation to promote the ‘HSBC Family Challenge’ to 500 golf clubs in the UK and welcome more new family players into the game. Brian and Tim played local youngsters at nearby Grange Golf Club to mark this project and children and members at Grange GC helped celebrate the growth of 87 new Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots projects in Scottish golf clubs, as the Foundation and Scottish Golf aims to extend their working partnership significantly in the time to come.
In line with The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter to support more girls and women in golf, of which the Foundation is a signatory, every aspect of the charity’s work is aimed at increasing the number of girls taking part in golf. In June, the Foundation helped The R&A provide youngsters from four Southport and Bootle primary schools with a memorable day at the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Hillside GC, as PGA professionals presented golf clinics to nearly 160 children, as part of the Sport England strategy ‘Towards an Active Nation’.
For next week’s RICOH Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes GC, the Ladies European Tour (LET) has supported the Golf Foundation and as a result encouraged local golf clubs to offer five weeks of school holiday coaching to children around the Open, including a visit to the LET’s ‘Golf Zone’ at the championship itself. This legacy project has created two new HSBC Golf Roots Centres in the area.
Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle said: “Our HSBC Golf Roots programme relies on The R&A and all our valued partners to encourage more kids of all abilities to enjoy the benefits of the sport. We are all working together with this aim in mind. The ‘Kids go Free’ initiative created a wonderful opportunity at Carnoustie and many of these boys and girls will have been inspired, particularly by that fantastic battle between the top players all week out on the course.
“The Open is a great week but it is only one week. We will now keep working hard as a charity. Our team of 10 Regional Development Officers are highly committed to helping golf clubs to demonstrate to youngsters and families that golf is fun, enriching and safe.”
In the middle of Open week, the R&A SwingZone was the venue to launch ‘SafeGolf’, the UK partnership working together to promote a safe and positive environment for everyone in golf. The Golf Foundation and The R&A are two of 10 UK partners supporting this long-term commitment to the welfare of young people and adults throughout the sport.
(Picture courtesy of Mark Newcombe)