Successful first Working for Golf seminar

Established and new affiliates from across eastern Europe recently attended the first ever R&A Working for Golf seminar in Prague, Czech Republic.

A total of 14 countries were represented at the day-long seminar to find out how golf’s governing body can aid their progress and also share ideas with one another.

A series of presentations from senior R&A staff covered our golf development work, provided advice on sustainable course management and ensured affiliates were up-to-speed with the newly updated Rules of Golf and Amateur Status.

Delegates, who ranged geographically from Poland to Kazakhstan, also heard from Antti Peltoniemi and Richard Heath of the European Golf Association (EGA), who outlined their organisation’s plans to help the growth of the sport throughout the continent.

Duncan Weir, The R&A’s Executive Director – Working for Golf, said: “This was a very useful first exercise of its type and we certainly all learned from the experience. Future seminars are already being planned in advance of golf’s entry to the Olympics in 2016.

“Our contacts in eastern Europe have now been strengthened and we look forward to supporting golf’s growth in the region.”

Experience at the event ranged from the newly affiliated Macedonia, which does not yet have a golf course, to the Czech Golf Federation (CGF) which first hosted a European Tour event 18 years ago.

The seminar, therefore, offered the opportunity for affiliates to learn from each other’s experience with presentations from Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Poland on junior development along with Russia’s experience of tournament golf.

Santa Puce, General Secretary of the Latvian Golf Federation, was clear she would be taking a lot from the seminar that will help her continue to grow the game in a country where it had never been played just 20 years ago.

She said: “I think today’s seminar will prove to be a big help, especially as it has been staged here in Prague, in a country which we can look up to, and I’m sure The R&A will continue to help into the future.

“Obviously, there is always a huge difference in established countries with a heritage going back hundreds of years but I would say we maybe have an advantage because older countries may have certain perceptions they are stuck with.

“We are new and can develop golf with an open mind and take just the good examples. What we have learnt is that we have to take the best practice and adapt it to suit our own situation.”

One delegate keen to learn about how to get more youngsters playing the game was Sergey Kozyrenko, General Secretary of the Ukrainian Golf Federation. His country’s first golf course did not open until 2008 but has already seen hundreds of people take up the game.

Kozyrenko said: “We had been thinking about setting up a golf forum for the countries of the former Soviet Union but we couldn’t do anything like this.

“I think an event like this, when it doesn’t come from one country but from an independent and respected body, bringing 14 countries together can only be a good thing and I will be taking many new ideas back to my federation.”