Golf Foundation Regional Development Officer for the South West, Tom Sparks, has a key responsibility to encourage young players from communities new to golf. Tom is one of 10 highly committed Foundation RDOs who are working hard to promote our ‘Golf for All’ philosophy.
Pictured are Golf Foundation RDOs (back row from left) Andy Wright, Jason Sorrell, Ian Harvey, Andy Leigh, Tom Sparks, Paul Aitkens, (front row from left) Stacey Mitchell, Alice Lowe, Daisy Brierley and Katie Moggan.
All our RDOs are excellent ambassadors for junior golf development and the wider sport; they have bags of knowledge about how your golf club, community project or school can reach the next level when it comes to welcoming more young people from all backgrounds into the game. It just so happens that they are also very friendly and approachable and you can find your nearest RDO in your region here.
Meanwhile, we fired some quick questions at Tom Sparks, who can be found on any given day growing the game somewhere between Gloucestershire and West Cornwall.
How are you enjoying working for the GF?
I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I get to work with some fantastic people in the South West with a real passion for growing the sport; as well as enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery in the country!
GolfSixes League: why does it work?
GolfSixes League was a joy to introduce into my region last season. I feel its success is partly down to the involvement of not only the PGA Pro and Junior Organisers, but the parents and families of the juniors. The inclusive nature of the initiative is unique and an effective way of engaging with families who don’t necessarily have a golfing background.
What is your special area of work for the GF regarding golf in the community?
My area of extra responsibility sits within the community and supporting the Foundation in its aim to ensure ‘Golf for All’. This involves helping more young people to ‘START’ their golfing journeys. I have a background in working with hard-to-reach groups of young people and am excited to work on some innovative new approaches in areas where golf is seen as inaccessible. I have been working with StreetGames to bring golf to kids in urban areas and lately talking with community housing associations in towns and cities to show how golf can benefit their young people.
How important is the ‘Golf for All’ ethos?
It’s hugely important to ensure we are trying to enrich young lives. It isn’t just about growing more members at golf clubs, as important as this is. It’s also about exposing the sport to young people, even if it’s not a habit they take up immediately. Golf has so many additional benefits to support a young person with confidence, respect and those ‘Skills for Life’ elements. An experience of golf for a group in a disadvantaged community can be highly rewarding, and can then initiate positive changes in their lives.
What do you like best about your job?
I enjoy meeting new people at golf clubs, schools, community groups and colleges and sharing ideas. Working for a charity that has young people at its heart is very refreshing and I’m proud to be part of a passionate team.
* Reach Tom at 07765 258990 and [email protected]