The Golf Foundation has been offering youngsters an exciting introduction to golf at Royal Lytham & St Annes, as the leading golf charity is present for the whole of Open Championship week courtesy of The R&A.

The Golf Foundation is showcasing its ‘HSBC Golf Roots‘ project, which expects to reach one million youngsters per year by 2013. This structured programme encourages children from all backgrounds and creates follow-on opportunities for young people at golf clubs and driving ranges in support of the national governing bodies of England, Wales and Scotland as they seek to grow the game.

The R&A Swingzone, found in The Open’s tented village, has been the perfect venue for the Golf Foundation team; youngsters have been flocking to have a go despite the mixed weather. The large, interactive area is shared with the Professional Golfers’ Association as both bodies work together to encourage new players to the sport.

Golf Foundation President Colin Montgomerie was welcomed on Tuesday when he presented the charity’s ‘Spirit of Golf’ Award to broadcasting legend Peter Alliss in front of a packed audience. Colin clearly relished playing Tri-Golf with boys and girls and chatting with the Golf Foundation team about their work in schools, communities and golf clubs under the HSBC Golf Roots banner.

More than 9,000 schools now offer golf linked to the HSBC Golf Roots project. Over 10,000 teachers, volunteers and PGA coaches have been trained over the last five years by the Golf Foundation and its partners. There are 22 Inner City Projects this year attracting more than 10,000 urban youngsters. Each year the number of schools with formal links to golf clubs is increasing.

These are the figures but this week, for the visiting youngsters at Royal Lytham & St Annes, it is all about fun.

Andy Leigh, Golf Foundation Regional Development Officer, said: “The atmosphere in the R&A Swingzone has been electric and it has been great to welcome so many boys and girls. We have some really fun and imaginative games for them to play and they can ask any questions about where to play next to enjoy regular golf. Many have also been really inspired by watching the stars out on the golf course, which is what The Open Championship is all about.”

Boys and girls have been enjoying Golf Foundation Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme games, competitions and a special putting challenge sponsored by Titleist.

Many youngsters are also taking advantage of the free lessons given by PGA professionals throughout the week. The pros are present thanks to the Professional Golfers’ Association, who sponsor the professionals to teach the young golfers as part of the organisation’s commitment to junior golf.
 
Brendon Pyle, National Development Manager for the Golf Foundation, said: “HSBC Golf Roots is all about providing youngsters from all backgrounds and circumstances, including hard-to-reach youngsters, with the opportunity to play, and to experience the ‘skills for life’ benefits that golf can offer.

“Throughout the year we are very grateful for the support from the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England in helping us to encourage so many schools in adopting golf as part of the new School Games offering to children.

“We also rely on great support from the golf world and this has once again been clearly demonstrated by The R&A, in providing this wonderful opportunity, and also the team at HSBC. Their support of Golf Roots has been instrumental in reaching many more youngsters throughout the year. The Open Championship may be our largest event, but HSBC Golf Roots has also been bringing golf to children in towns and cities everywhere in a range of exciting public venues, from sports festivals to engaging with families at shopping and leisure centres.”

HSBC Golf Roots is supported by The R&A, The European Tour, the Professional Golfers’ Association, the Ryder Cup Committee and Trust, the British Golf Industry Association’s ‘Grow Golf’ Fund, Sport England and headline sponsor HSBC.