The venue for this week’s event is a perfect example of how the game is rapidly growing in Portugal thanks to the many programs provided by the Portuguese Golf Federation, with the aim of bringing golf to the lives of kids from as young an age as possible.Englishmen Adam Gee, Andrew Marshall, Robert Rock, Sam Walker, Joakim Lagergren of Sweden, Tim Sluiter of The Netherlands and local favourites Santos and Nuno Enriques provided the lessons for the aspiring young golfers, before spending time answering questions and signing autographs.
The children present were just some of the 96 kids, ranging from the ages of five to 17, who form the membership of the Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra junior academy.As well as receiving regular lessons from the two professionals at the club, the kids play in mini-tournaments which are named after some of the golf superstars who have played at the club in the Madeira Islands Open – including Seve Ballesteros, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, who made his European Tour debut on the Portuguese island.
Earlier in the week the 2012 Madeira Islands Open winner Santos was present as golf equipment was donated for use at the club and schools across the island of Madeira, in order to help introduce the game to kids at an early stage.The programme is supported by the PGA of Europe’s Ryder Cup European Development Trust Fund, The European Tour, and the R&A.
Manuel Agrellos, the President of the Portuguese Golf Federation, said: “This is a programme to bring golfing equipment to schools and local facilities, both golf clubs and driving ranges.
“It’s important because this is the first contact kids have with the game and it has been a very successful programme.
“We have many schools now which provide golf for children. We need more good golf players on the world stage now, like Ricardo and the others to bring some media coverage and help inspire the kids.“We have quite a few players who are coming through and we need them to inspire and to push on and become big players.
“We are a big country and we have maybe 350,000 or more golfers who come to Portugal to play golf every year but we don’t have enough Portuguese golfers on the professional scene.“We need facilities to develop players, cheap and easy facilities so that everybody can get involved in golf, not just people with lots of money.”