Last week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool was a roaring success for the R&A in more ways than one. Not only has the championship itself been widely praised as one of the finest in many years, but enthusiastic schoolchildren were welcomed into the R&A’s Junior Golf Centre at Hoylake’s tented village following the organisation’s link-up with the Golf Foundation. It has given the R&A much hope that passion for the sport can now spread to children all over the country.
4,000 children from the age of five upwards took part in boisterous sessions of Tri-Golf, which has been developed by the two organisations in an effort to increase interest in golf amongst young children. Another attraction run by the Golf Foundation was the England Golf/Ping Putting Challenge, in which over 3,000 spectators each paid £1 (proceeds going to the Golf Foundation) in an attempt to win one of eight Ping putters.
Eight Tour professionals made guest appearances at the Golf Foundation’s stall and they all played games of Tri-Golf with the children. Englishman Ian Poulter (pictured) drew the biggest crowds, and other pros to give up some of their precious time included Paul Broadhurst, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Brett Rumford, Niclas Fasth, Paul Lawrie, Simon Dyson and Robert Karlsson.
A total of thirty-two schools from the north of England were guests at the event, including twenty-two from local schools on the Wirral. For the Wirral schoolchildren the event represented the last stage in their three-month project ‘The Road To The Open’, and the eventual winners, pupils from Pensby School, were presented with their very own Claret Jug by the captain of Royal Liverpool Andrew Cross.
Liverpool FC’s famous Anfield Stadium was the venue for the biggest event away from the course, The Open Championship Gala Dinner in aid of the Golf Foundation. Famous names from different sports mixed together amongst the many presitigious trophies won by Liverpool FC, and master of ceremonies Dougie Donnelly of the BBC helped to raise more than £20,000 via a Golf Foundation auction.
During the course of the week the R&A Junior Centre was being shared by the PGA and the Golf Foundation, and a team of PGA professionals were on hand to give free advice and free lessons to juniors. More than 1,300 benefitted – meaning that over 5,000 schoolchildren enjoyed a golfing experience to remember at the 135th Open Championship.