VOLUNTEER coaches at Hawick golf club are proving that recession is no barrier to building a bright future for junior hard-hitters, writes Rob Eyton-Jones.
After offering coaching in local primary schools this winter there is a strong chance the Vertish Hill outfit will double its junior membership.
To generate interest last autumn, Active Schools co-ordinator Paul Scott and club volunteer coach David Wilson gave taster sessions to every P5-7 child in the town’s 10 primary schools. For P5s in Trinity Primary, a school which does not have a PE teacher, they gave a five-week coaching block.
And so popular were the tasters that Hawick ran a seven-week coaching block in November and December, delivered by Wilson and fellow volunteer coaches, Douglas Crawford, Stuart Hunter and Graeme Tinlin.
The club’s latest initiative, being run under the clubgolf banner, is aiming to bring a generation of younger children into the membership, at the same time ensuring every youngster is a part of a structured and coordinated coaching programme.
To achieve this, the club has just launched an academy, with annual membership pegged at just £35 a year for the nine-year-olds who have just been given the introductory game.
“The academy will give us a pathway from the schools into the golf club which for the first time will be relatively affordable,” said Wilson.
“In the past parents would have had to find £120 for the children to join the club, and then spend the best part of £100 on clubs and equipment. It’s a lot of money when you consider the risk that some children will lose interest.
“Our academy kids will get free coaching and we will provide clubs, and there will be adults to take them out on the course. We will teach rules and etiquette which will help look after the course and encourage them to stay in the game long term.”
Following introductory lessons in schools the coaches ran a seven-week after-school club for any child wanting to develop their skills. It comes as no surprise that they were inundated.
“From our first batch of coaching this winter, 30 children have applied for academy membership,” added Wilson. “And I’m confident we can get 45 kids joining the club this year, which would double our junior membership.
“Almost all of these children are new members and a lot of them are girls, which is unheard of in our junior section. It just shows what can be done in a short space of time.”
To find out how your golf club can get involved and benefit from a number of Scottish Golf resources and initiatives why not visit the Borders SGU & SLGA Club Seminar on Sunday, February 6, at The Roxburghe Golf Club.
Topics will include clubgolf, governance, membership and marketing as well as offer you the opportunity to feedback what your club needs from the SGU/SLGA.
To book your place please speak to your golf club manager/secretary who has been sent an invitation and booking form which must be completed and returned to Audrey Rees at the SGU no later than tomorrow, or phone Audrey on 01334 466481.