Suffolk final reflects national impact of GolfSixes LeagueThis was a GolfSixes League county final to remember in Suffolk – but it has been the same story across 72 leagues featuring more than 350 golf clubs in the UK and Ireland.
The Golf Foundation’s GolfSixes League is the fun, inclusive format which sees boys and girls meeting from other clubs, enjoying pairs golf, in a Texas scramble to take the pressure off. Teams are six-a-side and they play six holes, so it’s great time-wise for families.
Meanwhile, it’s bigger, brighter and better in 2021 thanks to significant investment from The R&A. This support is helping national charity the Golf Foundation to introduce more children to golf from all backgrounds, because its team knows that golf can change lives.
The Suffolk ‘grand final’ on Sunday (October 17) brought together final qualifiers from three of the county’s separate leagues: with two extra leagues for 2021 made possible via the generous support and extra funding from the Suffolk Golf Union.
In England, GolfSixes League is run by the Golf Foundation and England Golf – it’s a major part of the Golf Foundation’s drive to get more kids of all abilities enjoying a start in golf with their families.
Just during the last week or so, there have been League finals (where four or five teams complete their fixtures) in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cheshire, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire and West Yorkshire.
The Suffolk grand final was held at Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club, supported by a highly enthusiastic group of parents, some of whom were volunteering. Trevor Mason, Chair of Suffolk Junior Golf, was present to help and he commented on how the county U12 and U14 squads had benefited from youngsters playing in GolfSixes League. The Golf Foundation’s Katie Moggan was in charge of the final and noted how the scoring of the players was some of the highest that she had seen in three years of growing the programme, as each team has been supported from the start by their club PGA Professional coaches, who are at the heart of every GolfSixes League.
Local hero Sam Forgan (pictured) – the PGA Professional attached to Felixstowe Ferry who played in this year’s 149th Open at Royal St George’s – was on hand to present the winning trophy to the team from Bury St Edmunds. The Bury boys and girls were run close all afternoon by teams from Bungay & Waveney Valley GC, Seckford GC, and the hosts Felixstowe Ferry.
Once again, the format was well received by parents. Sarah Tait, whose daughter Iona was playing, said: “I love the format – six holes is perfect for my daughter who has just started playing and does other sports. I wish we’d had this for my two older boys a few years ago.”
Chris Potter, the PGA Professional at Bungay, said: “The whole event has had such a positive effect on our juniors.”
Simon Byford, PGA Professional at Bury St Edmunds, said: “Just a massive thanks from me. The GolfSixes League programme sits perfectly in our junior model…The support from parents and grandparents is also great to see.”
Both professional coaches praised the system for improving confidence and scoring and helping the young players to make the transition from just starting, to enjoying golf on a full course.
The event finished with great cheer but also emotional warmth in the clubhouse, as the winning team was presented with a glass claret jug, the Roger Wright Trophy, which has become symbolic of the support behind GolfSixes League and county juniors from the Suffolk Golf Union and the Suffolk Ladies County Golf Association.
Golf Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle said: “This Suffolk final has been inspiring in every sense, it has been fabulous to see just how much the young players were enjoying competing together in GolfSixes League, something that is a common feature of all our leagues nationally.
“There was some fantastic support from parents: at all GolfSixes League venues we have been struck by how many families support their children and enjoy the time together on their Sunday afternoon on the golf course. It was also good to see so many girls competing in our mixed format, while all present really appreciated the fantastic welcome we received from everyone at Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club.
“We designed GolfSixes League to emulate the excitement of the Solheim and Ryder Cups, where youngsters new to golf can play in fun and friendly team formats at a grass roots level. We’re highly grateful to The R&A and the home nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for their support.”
Brendon added: “In our case here in Suffolk, a big thanks also to Suffolk Golf Union for their additional investment to generate two extra leagues in the area. This was a brilliant gesture to support the new young players who are of course the future of our game.”
In the wider picture, the Golf Foundation maintains that individual golf clubs can benefit financially thanks to the GolfSixes League format, as it is increasing interest in each golf venue for the whole family and their friends.
In England, pre-Covid, the format has been highly successful for increasing junior membership and this is expected to be the same this year. Clubs taking part reported a 49% average increase in junior membership in 2019 thanks to GolfSixes League.
A feature of many GolfSixes League fixtures, ‘Skills for Life’ medals can be earned by the team which demonstrates their spirit and resilience in playing, and their respect for other players, part of the life skills learning that underpins all the Golf Foundation’s work as a charity, as its team believes golf can change lives for young people from all backgrounds.