Deer Park Golf & Country Club PGA Pros, Sandy Strachan, John Murray and Andrew Dunsmore,
spent a large part of March teaching golf to children in local schools.
Working in earnest to ultimately build a junior academy at the Livingston club, the pair had began offering clubgolf coaching last summer before deciding at Christmas to half the club's annual junior fee.
Seeing the interest in clubgolf being generated in neighbouring schools this term they took the initiative and decided to teach 600 Primary 5 children.
“We got the idea after doing some children’s coaching with TriGolf gear during the Skyfest at Ingliston and saw how much they enjoyed it,” said Sandy.
“We are looking at ways to grow our junior programme so we sat down with our Active Schools Co-ordinator and saw it as a good way to go to give every Primary 5 child in 11 schools a taster session.
“The format was pitching, putting, and a competition at the end which went down fantastically.
“This was the first time we have taught golf in schools - the schools were over the moon and we had a fantastic response from the kids.
“For the schools that had not done clubgolf it gave them a kick start to begin because the teachers saw how much the kids enjoyed it.”
Over 1400 West Lothian children will play golf at school this year through the national junior golf programme, clubgolf, a partnership between the Scottish Golf Union, the Scottish Ladies' Golfing Association, the Professional Golfers' Association, the Golf Foundation and sportscotland created as a legacy following Scotland’s successful bid to host the Ryder Cup.
Having a junior friendly club close by, complete with Pros offering structured programmes from beginner to advanced levels, is the perfect opportunity for these children to develop their skills.
“One of the main focuses at Active Schools is to create a pathway for children by creating a link between schools and clubs so that children have the opportunity to learn a sport in the community,” said Deans cluster Active Schools Co-ordinator, Glenn Marsters, who has taught almost 100 school staff to deliver clubgolf’s introductory game.
“For the children in my schools the pathway is Deer Park and it was great of Sandy to go in to the schools and give a taster.
“The feedback from schools, and the fact that a golf Pro delivered it, has been very positive. For the children it’s good to put a face to the club. It has given the club a higher profile and forged a clearer link with the club.”
Thirty children were on Deer Park’s clubgolf coaching programme last year. As a direct result of this year’s school taster sessions, that figure has more than doubled. The course is just £20 for eight weeks of lessons and the club has doubled the number of lessons, to eight, to accommodate the surge of interest.
“The offshoot is we have had 37 children signed up for our Stage 1 course which starts after the Easter break,” said a delighted Sandy. “This is a good return and we should get more applying for the course over the coming weeks.
“Coaching at clubs in the winter can be quiet and this was a great way to get golf into local schools and generate interest in our programme.
“We have discussed it and the plan is to do the same again next year. It’s a great model for the future and something that Pros in other clubs could look at to boost their own junior numbers.”
To find out more about junior coaching at Deer Park contact Sandy Strachan on Tel: 01506 446688
To find out more clubgolf contact Mandy Martin, clubgolf’s Central Regional Manager, on Tel: 07956 540587, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit the clubgolf website: www.clubgolfscotland.com