The R&A - Working for Golf

Andrew 'Beef' Johnston meets young golf fans at The Open

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston took a break from the links of Royal Troon to meet up with young fans at The R&A’s SwingZone.

The Open provided the perfect showcase for the Golf Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme which helps young people to enjoy the benefits of golf and encourages them to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport through a unique community-to-club pathway, and is supported by The R&A.

Johnston appeared in the Spectator Village and played the special Tri-Golf Challenge against local young people.

Smiling and laughing with the youngsters, the Englishman played his part in ‘drive for show, putt for dough’, where he hit the big shots, and left the birdie putts to them.  ‘Beef’ then took part in the against-the-clock ‘The Open Tri-Golf Challenge’, which ran all week, where he beat five other professionals to be top of the leaderboard.

Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “Over the last decade we have had a good number of professionals visiting the SwingZone to help us promote our work to help grow the game in schools, communities and golf clubs but Andrew has certainly been one of the most cheerful, lively and fun of all. He was fantastic with the kids, encouraged them all, signed autographs and I think really inspired them. Beef’s great attitude is very refreshing and I’m sure he will have made many new young fans this week at Royal Troon.”

Johnston was one of five players from The Open field who made an appearance with the Golf Foundation thanks to the help of Titleist. Titleist also supported the Foundation’s Putting Challenge throughout the week, where more than a thousand children and parents emulated the likes of Champion Golfer of the Year Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson over 15ft putts for prizes.

Champion Golfer of the Year 2010 and UPS ambassador Louis Oosthuizen also made a special appearance to play a quick-fire Tri-Golf challenge with the Golf Foundation and ClubGolf Scotland as part of the UPS ‘Bags for Birdies’ campaign. For every birdie or better recorded by Oosthuizen and fellow UPS ambassador Lee Westwood at this year’s four Major Championships, UPS have pledged to donate a set of PING Moxie junior clubs to support grass roots golf in eight international territories. After The Open the pair have 78 birdies or better on their scorecards during the Major season.

Louis Oosthuizen with young golfers at The Open
Louis Oosthuizen with young golfers at The Open

The R&A, one of the Foundation’s major supporters, created The R&A SwingZone in the Spectator Village at Royal Troon for Open week. Here, the Golf Foundation team of regional officers delivered golf activity in partnership with ClubGolf Scotland, while sharing the facility with coaches from the PGA (who gave free lessons to spectators all week) and welcoming children and their parents to enjoy this unique venue.

The Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme helps young people to enjoy the benefits of golf and encourages them to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the game through a unique community-to-club pathway. It reaches 500,000 boys and girls per year but has ambitious targets. For example, in England, by 2018 the charity is looking to encourage 50,000 extra youngsters through the gates of a golf club each year via HSBC Golf Roots, with 15,000 playing regular golf from there.

The Golf Foundation is also supporting the ‘HSBC Hour’, in which 250 golf clubs in England, Scotland and Wales are to stage an ‘HSBC Hour’ during Open week to welcome new golfers to the club environment.