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Increasing Participation in Junior Golf

Increasing Participation in Junior Golf

GolPhin aims to increase participation in junior golf to 5% by 2021 through Schools Golf Programme 

It's Friday morning in Troon, Ayrshire and GolPhin Founder and CEO Calum McPherson is watching a group of 30 infant school kids participate in their weekly PE lesson. The difference is that today, golf is on the agenda.

After an interesting week touring the east coast of the United States, Calum talks us through his updates of the past ten days which includes meetings with the Director of Golf Development at none other than the Augusta National Golf Club, the Director of Player Development at the PGA of America, the Sales & Marketing Director for Walt Disney Golf and CEO of the Els Foundation of Excellence for Autism. A whirlwind week, but all part of GolPhin's plan to see the game of golf flourish on a global scale.

The topic of discussion at each of these meetings? To increase participation in golf through structured school programmes for children aged 3 to 8 years old.

Calum McPherson, Founder and CEO of GolPhin said: "This pipeline of future golfers is a must if we are still to be playing this great game in decades to come. We are all seeing first-hand the decline in memberships, the struggle for clubs to even field a team, and junior club championships not being played due to lack of members. If we think that suddenly we will have people picking up the game in their twenties and thirties we're kidding ourselves on. We have to foster change, and we all have to take responsibility as stakeholders of the game"

So, what's the plan? The GolPhin For Kids Academy is a non-for-profit organisation that takes the profits generated from its parent company GolPhin, and reinvests those profits into growing the game through its Schools Golf Programme.

The programme aims to connect a golf club and its Pro's with up to five local schools (at all ages) and help them facilitate a relationship that introduces children to the game of golf and creates a pipeline of junior players and members for that golf club.

GolPhin provide a comprehensive CPD programme for teachers, young leaders and volunteers which is designed to teach and develop the skills required to deliver the junior golf programme. The Pro's role is to oversee the programme and help with delivery where required across the small network of schools.

Calum McPherson added: "we can't expect the PGA Pros to run every single golf session, and if we do, we simply can't reach the number of children we need to in order to have an impact on the game. Every other sport relies on teachers, parent, and volunteers to coach, guide and facilitate sessions yet in the golf world, we seem to think that only a PGA Pro can facilitate a golf session. We have to change that thinking."

The programme is about to launch a full-scale programme across 52 schools in North Ayrshire in March 2018, with 12 local golf clubs acting as gateways for children to continue their development.

Every child that enters the GolPhin for Kids Academy receives a free GFK 7 iron and two Flipper golf balls that they can take home and use in the park and garden. The hope is that the children continue to engage with the game away from their weekly one-hour sessions of the ten-week programme, and that they encourage their parents to take them to their local Pro, club or driving range to continue their engagement with the game.

For the Pros and golf clubs, the programme creates a pathway for the children to progress into organised lessons, hopefully becoming junior members and lifetime golfers.

On the subject of key partners in the United States, GolPhin already has the backing of TPI and The David Leadbetter Academy as the preferred supplier of junior golf clubs, their alliance with the Ernie Else Foundation of Excellence will see GolPhin help to provide curriculum and tools to facilitate schools golf for special needs children in the US and the UK, with ambitions to take this into each continent, and their discussions with Augusta National and the PGA of America look set to see them become a strategic partner for the governing bodies of golf when it comes to developing the game at under 8 level.