National charity the Golf Foundation and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland are looking forward to welcoming several thousand youngsters and family members new to the sport during the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland next week.
The Golf Foundation is guest of its strongest supporter The R&A and is working alongside colleagues from the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) in the ‘R&A SwingZone’ for the whole week (from Sunday to Sunday). Running the facility in the Spectator Village is seen as a “wonderful and unique opportunity” to grow the game further for young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Youngsters of all abilities will get to play energetic and fun ‘Tri-Golf’ challenges (while all family members can enjoy the Titleist Putting Challenge). Sixteen organised groups of children from regional golf clubs, school and charity projects have also been invited to the R&A SwingZone before going on to watch the stars of world golf out on the links.
The Tri-Golf format plays a key role in the Golf Foundation reaching 500,000 youngsters a year, creating a pathway from discovering golf in schools and the community to regular golf at golf clubs. The Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme encourages young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport and enjoy its ‘Skills for Life’ benefits.
The Golf Foundation and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland have recently forged closer links with a view to sharing expertise and best practice to welcome more young people to experience the sport. The two organisations will share the R&A Swing Zone with the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), and a group of expert PGA Professionals will be present all week offering free golf lessons to visitors of all ages and abilities.
This opportunity for the Golf Foundation follows The R&A’s recent decision to strengthen its support of this charity’s work, including an investment of £2 million over the next four years.
Golf Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle said: “The considerable support of The R&A reaches all aspects of our work, all year round. However, by backing our team so well at The Open Championship, this presents a wonderful and unique opportunity to inspire the next generation of enthusiastic young golfers. The Foundation and our partners all look forward to welcoming a great many families to Royal Portrush for what should be a fantastic week.”
This positive message is reinforced on ‘Open Saturday’ (July 20) at nearby Portstewart GC, where local boys and girls will show off their new golf skills to help promote the ‘HSBC Hour’. This is a special initiative run with Golf Foundation sponsor HSBC which promotes open access to more than 550 junior-friendly golf clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; when juniors and family members are asked to bring along a friend to experience golf and their golf club. And during Open week, HSBC Ambassadors Brian O’Driscoll and Tim Henman are set to make a number of visits to the R&A SwingZone and take on visiting youngsters in high-energy Tri-Golf Challenges to promote the HSBC Hour.
It’s not just about the kids at Royal Portrush: golf lovers of all ages in the family will have the chance every day to win one of eight top-of-the-range Titleist Scotty Cameron putters in a unique putting challenge supported by Titleist, along with Titleist golf balls and caps.
Meanwhile, on the Tuesday practice day, the Golf Foundation is set to make the presentation of the charity’s ‘Spirit of Golf Award’, given each year to a leading international golfer who has inspired juniors in the way they have played the game and the respect they have shown their sport and its participants. This year’s winner will follow names such as Tom Watson, Gary Player, Tony Jacklin, Padraig Harrington, and Colin Montgomerie in receiving this prestigious award.