Time to tee-off - golf for kids

Time to tee-off - golf for kids

With the likes of Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Luke Donald really flying the flag for British Golf at the moment, the sport is basking in the glory of its home grown talent and is supplying the inspiration to tempt youngsters in the UK to take a swing at the sport. So maybe, now is the time to swap the golf training packages on the Wii or Kinect for the real thing! We’ve taken a closer look at how children can follow in the footsteps of these sporting greats, head to the open spaces and start cultivating a lifelong passion for the game... The benefits of playing golf... It’s not surprising to discover golf is enjoyed by over 4 million people across the UK. It is a social sport where different generations of people and of varying fitness levels can meet to play together, and it is an activity that for which countless players grasp a lifelong passion. Firing up an interest in golf at a young age will instil valuable mental and physical benefits. The calming environment of the fairway, the greens and surrounding countryside, naturally allows a child to enjoy the advantages of the open space and fresh air. No two courses are the same offering interest and variety. Many children thrive on the assortment of challenges that golf poses such as: how to avoid the bunkers, what clubs to use at various points of the game, and what effects the weather will have on performance. Physical motions often associated with playing golf such as balance, speed, hand to eye co-ordination and agility are attributes that need development in children before they reach their teens. The sooner children are exposed to these abilities the better they will perform as adults in a variety of different sports. Aside from its favourable physical spin-offs, Golf also challenges a child’s personal skills as it places a strong emphasis on standards of behaviour and etiquette. The structure and formality of the game teaches self-discipline, good conduct, respect for other players, self motivation and self-awareness which ultimately will lead to a healthy self esteem and confidence. Golf also tests and helps create perseverance, concentration, good judgement and honesty, plus can nurture a competitive streak if there is one. Incidentally, a child with a competitive spirit will appreciate the ‘handicapping' system that exists in golf, meaning that whatever their ability, they’ll have a chance of playing in, and perhaps winning, events and competitions. Where can my child play golf? The Golf Foundation, a charity that helps to make the game more accessible to children, launched its Golf Roots programme in 2003 with the objective of providing opportunities for children to learn the sport. Now, the programme has evolved into the largest and most successful junior golf development project in the UK. Golf Roots includes a range of introductory schemes for youngsters such as Tri-Golf, which is often played in schools and the Junior Golf Passport - the National Learning Programme. Golf in schools Children are able to take their first swing at a mini version of golf called Tri-Golf, which involves the use of plastic clubs and soft targets that are safe and delivered by fully trained teachers – before moving on to playing the real game at clubs. Tri- Golf was developed to enable the sport to be delivered to primary school children by teachers within the school environment and now reaches approximately 750,000 young children per year across the UK. It involves a range of fun-based games and activities linked to the school PE curriculum. As well as delivery through schools, Tri-Golf can also be used in almost any environment that will help inspire and motivate children. Learning golf at a club An increasing number of local schools are being linked to golf clubs where approved junior organisers and PGA professionals are able to help the children learn the rudiments of ‘real’ golf. Many golf clubs have a PGA professional who is qualified to teach the game to children and is able to offer plenty of playing opportunities including starter and taster sessions after school or at weekends using the Junior Golf Passport scheme. The Junior Golf Passport The Junior Golf Passport, produced by the Golf Foundation, is a scheme that places its importance on learning in a fun way using a variety of games and activities delivered by a qualified PGA Coach. The actual Junior Golf Passport is a booklet containing useful advice and information, plus has space where the PGA coach can record a child’s progress within it. The Junior Golf Passport provides a child with a permanent visual record of their development helping them to fine tune their game for future years. To find your nearest Golf Roots Centre (who run the Junior Golf Passport scheme) simply go to www.golf-foundation.org Some golf links... General: The Golf Foundation: www.golf-foundation.org The PGA: www.pga.info For boys: English Golf Union - 01526 354500 or www.englishgolfunion.org Scottish Golf Union - 01382 549500 or www.scottishgolf.org Golf Union Wales - 01633 436040 or www.golfunionwales.org Golfing Union of Ireland - 00 3531 269 4111 or www.gui.ie For girls: English Women’s Golf Association - 0121 456 2088 or www.englishwomensgolf.org Scottish Ladies Golf Association - 01382 549502 or www.slga.co.uk Golf Union Wales - 01633 436040 or www.golfunionwales.org Irish Ladies Golf Union - 00 3531 269 6244 or www.ilgu.ie

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