Thanks to a partnership between the Golf Foundation and the Youth Sport Trust, more than 50,000 young people have taken part in an inter-school golf competition in English schools for the first time in one academic year.
The level of competitive golf played in primary schools saw a significant increase in 2017/18, jumping from 40,000 participants to just over 50,000, as 25% more boys and girls took part in inter-school School Games events, enjoying easy-to-play ‘Tri-Golf’.
The Golf Foundation, having recently received a welcome endorsement and funding commitment from The R&A, believes that its successful Tri-Golf Festival format is a “game changer” for primary schools as it has become an established part of the national School Games. The School Games, which is funded by Sport England and delivered by leading charity the Youth Sport Trust, was started in 2006 as a single annual multi-sport competition before being expanded in 2010 to include more localised competitions, from major county level events to smaller competitions within the same school.
An estimated 300,000 children in nearly 3,000 primary schools were given the opportunity to play Tri-Golf over the 2017/18 academic year thanks to the School Games, and as part of the Golf Foundation’s national ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme, which encourages more young people aged five to 17 to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport in schools, communities and golf clubs.
The School Games format has also appealed to junior-friendly golf clubs, as 10,000 of these youngsters enjoyed their school v school matches at a golf club in their area under the guidance of a PGA professional coach and supported by the Golf Foundation. The Foundation encourages all primary and secondary schools to include girls in mixed teams for events, aiming for each school team to be made up of 50% girl players.
Though the scoring is important, the accent is just as much about ‘Skills for Life’ learning, which is seen as a key reason for golf’s growing acceptance by teachers as a new team sport. School Games Tri-Golf offers inclusive and high-energy game formats, an honesty scoring system and the training of young volunteers from secondary schools to encourage the youngsters. A Skills for Life trophy is presented to the most sporting team on the day.
The Golf Foundation team believes it is succeeding in changing perceptions of golf in schools. Employing Tri-Golf for younger kids and ‘StreetGolf’ in secondary schools, the Foundation and its partners have shown thousands of teachers that golf can be fun, educational, safe to play, practical in terms of space and fully inclusive for all abilities, while offering follow-on playing opportunities at a growing number of Golf Foundation approved golf clubs.
Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “Thanks to the School Games and the successful working partnership between the Youth Sport Trust and the Golf Foundation to develop innovative and adapted competition formats, golf is now an established part of competitive school sport in primary schools. This certainly is something to celebrate as we know that golf now offers inclusive and engaging opportunities for all children to develop motor control, attentional focus as well as a range of life skills, while also having lots of fun with their friends.”
Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle said: “Ten to 15 years ago, golf just wasn’t seen as suitable or appealing in the school setting but the growth of Tri-Golf has really changed these perceptions. Thanks to the support of all at the Youth Sport Trust we have been able to tailor our programmes to make a lasting impact in schools.
“We see the successful evolution of Tri-Golf as a genuine game changer. It’s fantastic that golf is now seen by a great many schools as one of the ‘go-to sports’ of the School Games. This is important to this charity as we sought to build on the legacy of the London Olympics of 2012 with some real energy and innovation; to help make golf a more accessible sport for kids across all communities and from all backgrounds.”
(Picture: Sussex School Games, courtesy of Steven Laurence)