Golf Roots 2008 has been the largest ever UK programme to introduce urban youngsters to golf. The Golf Foundation believes that golf is an ideal sport for promoting attributes like honesty, respect, co-operation and self-motivation; all attributes that are seen as desirable for young people growing up in sometimes pressurised city environments.
The Foundation team has outlined the regional success of Golf Roots and says that its local organisers should be ‘justly proud of their achievement’.
With 16 cities and urban areas taking part in England and Wales, Golf Roots exceeded some ambitious targets. A total of 5,930 children from 155 schools enjoyed golf in the school setting, and more than 7,000 boys and girls from different backgrounds and abilities tried golf at public venue events (from carnivals to shopping centres).
The Golf Foundation development team worked with local people to run area initiatives, with the express aim of schools and community groups linking with golf facilities to provide the ‘pathway’ for interested youngsters to go from a first hit with a golf club to one day becoming regular golfers.
More than 1,150 youngsters enjoyed follow-on coaching at Golf Foundation Community Links centres at golf clubs and driving ranges. Here they receive structured learning through the Foundation’s Junior Golf Passport.
The 16 urban areas involved were London (two schemes, in Hackney and Southwark), Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Derby, Bristol, Luton, Bournemouth, Worcester, Preston, Corby, Portsmouth, Wrexham and Cardiff.
Much of the good work from Golf Roots centred on the training of adults and young volunteers to deliver golf to children, and 477 people were supported in this way (278 teachers, 116 sports leaders and 76 volunteers).
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: ‘For 2008 we set some ambitious targets for Golf Roots and I’m delighted with the progress at every level. All the people involved with delivering Golf Roots in their urban area should be justly proud of their achievement of creating structures that welcome youngsters from all backgrounds to a new sport. I’d like to thank our delivery partners in all 16 cities and the national supporters of Golf Roots, whose financial backing has been absolutely crucial for success.’
The project has attracted heavyweight support, from golf lover and popular BBC radio presenter DJ Spoony to professional golf’s European Tour. This year Golf Roots received additional support from the National Sports Foundation, England Golf, The R&A and the British Golf Industry Association’s ‘Grow Golf’ fund.
DJ Spoony has been a driving force behind Golf Roots during the last five years. As the project’s Ambassador, Spoony has met and worked with youngsters, young and adult volunteers, teachers, PGA professionals and Golf Foundation staff to boost the initiative. Spoony is also the project’s greatest funder, contributing thousands of pounds per year to the cause, all raised at his annual celebrity golf day.
Fifty-seven per cent of the children involved in Golf Roots were boys, and 43 per cent were girls, the latter a healthy percentage as one of the key aims of Golf Foundation work is to encourage more young girls into sport.
Well over 7,000 children enjoyed a taste of golf through one-off public events. Birmingham’s Golf Roots co-ordinator Gareth Snelgrove said: ‘Our project made the most of links with local partners. We were given space to deliver at events such as local carnivals and fetes where high numbers of people were likely to be present. These activities rounded off a very busy and enjoyable Golf Roots year.’
Mike Round added: ‘Golf Roots aims to challenge the perceptions towards golf and its ability to reach into communities where previously golf may not have been considered an option. The project allows its deliverers to try fresh ideas to reach children. These sustainable golf projects aim to empower individuals, including both children and the teachers, parents and volunteers involved. We now hope to build on this excellent momentum for Golf Roots in 2009.’
* To learn more about Golf Roots and the Golf Foundation call 01992 449830 or visit golf-foundation.org