Golf Monthly Editor's Letter Open 2013 Issue

Editor’s Letter Open 2013 Issue

For me, one of the highlights of the BMW PGA Championship was attending the Golf Foundation Awards.

Amid all the glamour and glitz of the European Tour’s flagship event, this was a chance to shift the focus temporarily away from the world’s top golfers on to grass roots golf.

The Golf Foundation, as many will know, is a charity committed to getting young people into the game, with the awards acknowledging the immense hard work of volunteers, PGA pros, junior organisers, school teachers and local authority officers in turning its vision into reality.

Watching the winners accept their awards, you couldn’t help but be moved and inspired by their efforts.

For many of you, your introduction to golf was probably via the well-established route of family member or friend. But many youngsters don’t have the benefit of that encouragement, and the Golf Foundation’s work provides their first golfing experience.

At this entry level, the Foundation focuses on school, community and traditionally hard-to-reach city projects. If golf is to grow, it will be through projects like those spotlighted at the awards, more of which on our website and in our next issue.

As a club member, the award I could relate most to was the Gus Payne Award for the club raising most for the Foundation.

This year’s winner was Woburn in Bedfordshire, raising £2,320. It did so by asking members to donate £2 as part of their annual subscription levy. Simple but effective.

Even in tough times, £2 is a modest sum – far less than a premium golf ball or post-round pint. Yet if we all made this small gesture, the impact on golf development would be huge.

The Foundation would have far greater reach, and more clubs would be finding their way into the hands of youngsters who wouldn’t ordinarily come into contact with golf.

For some, a Foundation-funded session will spark a life-long love affair. For others, it’s just a few hours away from football or computer games.

Either way, the wider benefits are meaningful, as a core Golf Foundation goal is to introduce young people to some of the ‘skills for life’ golf instils so adeptly.

We golfers take honesty, respect, cooperation, self-motivation, concentration and perseverance seriously. But in wider society, they often seem in short supply.

Golf is a great way to learn these skills and traits, so even those who don’t go on to play the game will still have benefited enormously.

There’s no downside to the Golf Foundation’s work, so it was very disappointing to learn that the number of clubs making donations is in serious decline.

Last year, just 441 clubs donated in this way, down nearly 50 per cent on 2006. And, whereas in 1994 £187,754 was raised, last year the figure was just £41,560.

The reasons for this huge drop are varied, although it’s certainly not because UK golfers are averse to raising money for charity. But it’s a trend that needs to be reversed if the sport is to grow and thrive in the long term.

So how can you help? Club members should ask their managers if the club currently donates to the Foundation. If not, ask for it to be put on the agenda of the next AGM or committee meeting.

The £2 levy is the easiest way, but entry fees from nominated competitions work well, too. And if you’re a captain in 2014, why not make the Foundation your nominated charity?

If you’re not a club member, you can donate via the safe and secure method of text message (text ‘Golf19 £2’ to 70070).

I believe it is every golfer’s duty to make an effort to help grow the game, so future generations have the opportunity to get from it what we have.

Would you not want them to share those experiences and feel the same joy the game has given you? I’m sure the answer is yes, in which case the easiest way to help is to support the Golf Foundation’s essential work.

Email: michael_harris@ipcmedia.com
Twitter: @MikeHarrisGolf