The Golf Foundation has enjoyed its most productive year of growth yet as a grass roots development organisation.
The leading golf charity works with the national partnerships of England, Scotland and Wales to grow the game in schools, communities and clubs. During the last decade it has concentrated even more energy and resources into making the game more accessible to children from all backgrounds and abilities.
A growing number of golf clubs and driving ranges are now becoming active partners in 326 local sport partnerships which take Golf Foundation golf games like Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme to thousands of schools and hundreds of thousands of boys and girls.
A clear development strategy links school and community golf to local golf clubs and driving ranges. Youngsters may enjoy a first hit with club and ball in a PE lesson, at a sports festival or a public event. From here they are given opportunities at junior sections of golf clubs to gain their first handicap, using the Foundation's structured learning programme the Junior Golf Passport.
New Golf Foundation figures show that in England alone the Foundation's development team of seven regional officers trained more than 1,000 young volunteers in Tri-Golf delivery and Junior Golf Leaders Workshops during 2008. Last year, the Foundation trained 3,000 teachers to deliver Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme, which is also a landmark figure for the team.
"The increasing level of partnership between schools and golf clubs really is very exciting and we think it will have highly significant knock-on effects for junior membership levels," said Brendon Pyle, National Development Manager for the Golf Foundation.
"Our development plan is now undoubtedly working and more and more adults and older teenagers are getting involved with the Golf Foundation to help as volunteers. This is starting to accelerate the momentum for junior golf in support of the national partnerships of England Golf, Golf Development Wales and clubgolf in Scotland. It seems to be a winning formula and we are hoping for a fantastic year in 2009."
The 326 school sport partnerships linked to the Golf Foundation are actively promoting golf to approximately 16,000 schools. Government figures show that 60 per cent of secondary schools now offer golf and the Foundation's own internal monitoring finds that more than half of the primary schools delivering Tri-Golf do so during school curriculum time in the PE lesson.
Working alongside the Foundation, Partnership Development Managers have been able to access almost £400,000 of extra funding from outside the sport via Big Lottery, Sport Unlimited, and the School Coach programmes during the last year.
Latest Golf Foundation figures show that there were a total of 517 Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme festivals held in 2008, involving help from 2,828 young volunteers.
These most recent figures follow government findings last autumn which demonstrated the success of Foundation schemes in linking schools to golf clubs. The School Sport Survey for 2007/08 indicates that the number of schools delivering golf has increased to 38 per cent (previously 31 per cent in 2006/07, 23 per cent in 2005/06).
The number of schools with links to golf clubs and driving ranges has increased to 22 per cent (18 per cent in 2006/7). The survey found that golf was second only to cycling in terms of the fastest growth of sports in schools.