An initiative to introduce Scottish schoolchildren to the game of golf has given 40,234 Primary Five schoolchildren a taste of the game this year – the highest number achieved in a single year so far in the history of ClubGolf.
Speaking while attending the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles today and meeting youngsters practising their game, Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister of Scotland, said: “Our young golfers are the lifeblood of the game and encouraging first-timers to pick up a club and try out the sport is crucial if we are to see it continue to flourish.
“That is why the contribution of ClubGolf to the sporting landscape of Scotland is essential in bringing on fresh new talent and these figures today demonstrate that the programme is working.
“Since its inception in 2003, ClubGolf has given 260,234 children in Scotland the opportunity to try out the sport. . by putting a club in the hands of every nine year old in the country. Not only does this give youngsters the opportunity to experience golf, it also raises the chances of Scotland creating champions of the future.
“Given Scotland is the undisputed worldwide home of golf and we are here today on the very course where the Ryder Cup will be played in 2014, it is also only fitting that today Gleneagles should also be recognised as an official partner of ClubGolf.
”The relationship between Gleneagles and ClubGolf is longstanding and, with the strength and quality of the Gleneagles brand and the brand association with Ryder Cup 2014, it is a relationship which should now be given more formal recognition. Having Gleneagles formally on board as a ClubGolf partner is a fantastic boost for the programme.
“The resort has also made a wonderful contribution by offering all the proceeds from Friday’s on the day tickets sales to ClubGolf and the £20,400 they are donating today will immediately go back in to the children’s game in Scotland.”
Golf tourism generates £220million for the Scottish economy each year and the Ryder Cup is expected to be worth £100m to the economy.
Patrick Elsmie, managing director of The Gleneagles Hotel, said: “We are very proud indeed of our long association with ClubGolf and we are delighted to have that recognised through our Official Partner status. I would also like to congratulate ClubGolf on delivering its best ever figures for the number of young people going through its programmes.
“As we build up to the 2014 Ryder Cup we look forward to working closely with ClubGolf and with the Scottish Government to ensure that the world’s biggest team golf event leaves a lasting legacy for golf and for young people in Scotland.”
Jackie Davidson, manager of ClubGolf, said: “We are delighted to have introduced over 40,000 children to golf at school this year. This is the highest number of ClubGolfers introduced in a single year so far, and a huge testament to the sustained efforts of our partners, particularly the local authorities, schools and the Active Schools network.
“ClubGolf in schools is the important start of the golfing journey for these youngsters and, by working closely with our clubs, we will ensure that every school offering ClubGolf has a club or facility nearby offering children the next stage of the programme.
“The result will be more children playing golf, an active junior membership across Scotland and aspiring young players achieving their potential.”
Just last month, a number of Scotland’s top golfers were announced by the First Minister as official Clubgolf Ambassadors. They include: Colin Montgomerie, Martin Laird, Scott Jamieson, Stephen Gallacher, Catriona Matthew and Kelsey MacDonald. The programme ahs also been backed by Jack Nicklaus,18-time Major champion and designer of the PGA Centenary Course, Host Venue of the 2014 Ryder Cup.