European Senior Tour players are offering their unrivalled experience and expertise to help the Golf Foundation encourage new young golfers at Senior Tour events.
In partnership with leading golf charity the Golf Foundation, the Senior Tour aims to make golf more accessible to children from all backgrounds and abilities.
The players are presenting clinics to local school and community groups at three European Senior Tour events this summer, and launched the [programme at the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Slaley Hall iat the start of June. Clinics will also take place at the SSE Scottish Senior Open, at Fairmont St Andrews, and the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open, at Conwy Golf Club, both in August.
The first event comprised a series of clinics at the De Vere Slaley Hall event on June 7. Eight Senior Tour players: David Merriman, Steve Harrison, Gary Stubbington, Mark Belsham, Russell Weir, Steve Cipa, John King, and James Murphy took one-to-one and group coaching with 18 children from local StreetGames projects in the North East, including inner city Newcastle and North Tyneside, giving the youngsters their very first taste of golf.
John Wood, Golf Foundation Regional Development Officer for the North East, led some Golf Xtreme games to warm the boys and girls up before the Senior Tour professionals offered unique insights into the basics of the game while exciting all present with a few top shots from their lockers.
Wood said: “These sessions were clearly really inspiring for those taking part, despite some poor weather conditions at times. What was really evident to us was how much the youngsters learned from the day. By the end of the clinics they were all hitting some good shots and looking confident and ready for more golf. They will now go on to a whole new experience as they play our Street Golf games with the StreetGames team in an urban setting.”
The Professional Golfers’ Association is one of the core supporters of the Golf Foundation and many PGA Professionals work closely with the Foundation to help take golf into schools and the community and then welcome youngsters into the golf club environment and, through coaching, set them on the way to their first handicap and a life in golf.
Wood added: “We were very grateful to all the players, the team at De Vere Slaley Hall, the PGA team, and also special thanks to Duncan O’Farrell from Newcastle City Council and Mandy Bennett from North Tyneside Council for arranging the visit of all the children.”
Fredrik Lindgren, European Tour Marketing Executive and Golf Foundation Trustee, said: "European Senior Tour players and staff are delighted to be able to play a small part in popularising golf among young people. All organisations and individuals involved in the game owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Golf Foundation for the important work it carries out in schools across the country.
“We look forward to seeing more keen girls and boys at theSSE Scottish Senior Open at Fairmont St Andrews, and the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open at Conwy, and hope that our partnership with the Golf Foundation will last for many more years when players like Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, who got into golf with the Foundation's help, could be the ones showing the youngsters the way."
Brendon Pyle, National Development Manager of the Golf Foundation, said: “Our team is indebted to the staff and players of the European Senior Tour for creating these opportunities for us to help youngsters and also to showcase our national HSBC Golf Roots programme to a wider audience at events. HSBC Golf Roots is the official grass roots junior programme for the England Golf Partnership and has the ambitious target of reaching one million youngsters through golf in 2013, offering them pathways to more golf options and the ‘Skills for life’ benefits that golf can give to young people.”
The European Tour has been a consistently strong supporter of the Golf Foundation. This year, the Foundation was invited by The European Tour to stage its prestigious President’s Awards at Wentworth during the BMW PGA Championship in May and The European Tour will stage the Golf Foundation Pro-Am in October, at London Golf Club, an event it has run for 26 years.