Schoolchildren in East Lothian, Scotland, have enjoyed an excellent introduction to golf thanks to a 2021 project run by the Stephen Gallacher Foundation and funded by the Golf Foundation.
The Stephen Gallacher Foundation (SGF) is a charity based in Edinburgh that aims to give children from all backgrounds the opportunity to learn golf in a welcoming atmosphere at local golf clubs, supported by committed PGA Professionals.
Twenty schools are reached by the SGF in the East Lothian area, all receiving coaching first in the school setting. The winning formula is created by transporting groups of 15 children and teachers from schools to golf clubs via minibus; once there meeting an accredited PGA Professional for structured group coaching, with many families then choosing to enrol their youngsters as junior members of the clubs involved.
Castle Park Golf Course at Gifford has proved to be an excellent hub for 10 of the schools in the scheme supported by the Golf Foundation (including Meadow Park Special School which caters for children with autism and learning difficulties). The SGF coached around 345 children; all received six weeks of coaching first in schools (curriculum sessions are made up of 50% girls and 50% boys) with many attending popular after-school clubs (enjoyed by 150 children so far) at Castle Park Golf Course.
Stuart Johnston of the SGF said: “We have created a simple, effective and very popular way of encouraging schoolchildren along to the great golf clubs we work with. Kids love to make the trip with their teachers from school to experience golf for the first time at an actual golf club. It’s great that at the end of their six weeks of coaching, many want to join the club.”
Stuart added: “Castle Park Golf Course has confirmed that they have approximately 160 new affiliated junior members [37 girls]. The support from all at the club has been fantastic and they have provided a driver for the minibus at no extra cost. They also reduced the rate on the cost of balls for the driving range. This has enabled us to provide sessions for a further seven classes [105 children].
“On behalf of the Stephen Gallacher Foundation I can’t thank the Golf Foundation enough for having faith in us to deliver this programme.”
The initiative is also backed by Scottish Golf as part of its junior framework in the ‘Home of Golf’.
Four-time European Tour winning golfer and Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher has been supporting Scotland’s young people from all backgrounds through his Foundation since 2013.
Young golfers taking part in this school to club programme will also be able to join in with the all-abilities competition structure which is key to the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, encouraging younger children right up to Under 18’s to reach their potential in the game through club and area competitions.
Scottish Golf knowledge & support
The latest Golf Foundation investment comes from a funding pot the charity keeps to support junior activity in Scotland. The Foundation is particularly grateful to Scottish Golf for bringing together the various key junior bodies in Scotland as part of the national organisation’s new Junior Golf Framework.
Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “The Golf Foundation is delighted to be supporting the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, who are carrying out exceptional work to inspire more young people from all backgrounds to take up golf through this innovative and inclusive school to golf club pathway. The whole team at the SGF, and of course every PGA Professional coach and volunteer who has shown their support, should be very proud of their efforts.”