Feltwell Golf Club in Norfolk has been working wonders to build its junior section in the last couple of years, and now is recognising the potential popularity of the game for family groups – thus creating new introductory offers for family coaching, family practice on the range and vouchers for the Par-3 course.
Picture: From left, Denise Whiting and Jo Bates receive their SafeGolf accreditation from England Golf Club Support Officer Jordan Dymond
These offers complement the existing coaching of young children, also known as the Birdies, and the older kids, the Eagles. Last year, club PGA Professional Jo Bates, with the support of the Golf Foundation, was able to reach out to local primary schools and offer coaching, including staging a 250-pupil Golf Open Day, and then offer follow-on coaching back at the club.
Feltwell GC is one of the Golf Foundation’s strong national network of ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ Centres, all of which receive expert support in junior development, discretionary funding and access to valuable learning resources.
Plans are now in place when possible to start a ‘satellite club’ for teenagers in a local secondary school to try golf in their own school club setting before taking their golf further at Feltwell GC. The club has also received its SafeGolf accreditation and Jo has successfully signed Feltwell GC up to The R&A Women in Golf Charter.
It’s a recipe that is creating a thriving junior section. Foundation Regional Development Officer Stacey Mitchell is able to help with expert advice and funding for the outreach work in schools, and the Foundation introduced the club to the fun competition of the GolfSixes League series last season, the inter-club, six-a-side matches where boys and girls play in the club team colours against neighbouring golf clubs in their own league.
England Golf’s ‘Get into Golf’ programme is helping Jo and the team encourage more women players in weekly sessions, creating a growing group who encourage each other as they learn. Friendly members have been welcoming, and six new women have signed up so far since the return to golf after lockdown.
Club member Denise Whiting has done “a brilliant job” on the marketing and promotion of all these activities in the local community; her creative hard work helping to draw in brand new players.
The club’s coaching team now sees the benefit of reaching out to the whole family, hence the new family coaching offers. “I think that getting the family to learn together can be very special,” said Jo. “It can create a real bond, opening up a new activity in the fresh air at a friendly club; giving the whole family something they can do together and then talk about and build on, when they’re at home or practising later.”
Jo will be starting them off in one hour lessons, with 45 minutes coaching and 15 minutes practice, before introducing them to the Par-3 course and they can then all play together on the full course. It’s early days but local interest has been very good, says Jo, and could start an important trend at the club.
Golf Foundation RDO Stacey Mitchell said: “Jo is doing a great job here reaching out to new golfers in different ways. Her focus on juniors and new women has been superb and now that there is a positive vibe for introducing players, it’s great to take the next step and appeal to the whole family. This is something we are encouraging other clubs to do because the overall benefits to the club, and those who come along to learn the game, can be really positive.”
The Golf Foundation is finding that appealing to the whole family can work really well for any golf club: boosting coaching and business programmes significantly across the venue. And it can all start with just one new parent coming to the club with their son or daughter for a look. (One recent example at Northampton GC showed that with Golf Foundation input a club can earn up to £40,000 in revenues a year from adults who have joined with a link to the juniors.)
Like Feltwell GC, Northampton GC is a Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots Centre: you can find out more about the six great benefits in working with the Foundation as a Centre here.
At HSBC Golf Roots Centres, the average income raised for the year through junior development is £5,580.