Olympic Champion Justin Rose has been praised for his gold medal performance in Rio by the Golf Foundation, the charity that helps young people to enjoy the benefits of golf and encourages them to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport. It is hoped that Rose’s “inspirational” win will attract new golfers from the watching audience for the Olympics.
The Golf Foundation reaches 500,000 young people each year through its HSBC Golf Roots programme, which is supported by The R&A, in schools, golf clubs and the community. Children from all backgrounds and abilities are introduced to golf as the Foundation supports the national golf development bodies of England, Scotland and Wales. By 2018 the charity is seeking to encourage 50,000 youngsters into a golf club every year, with 15,000 going on to be regular players.
A young Hampshire boy called Justin Rose, aged 11, came fifth in the final of the Golf Foundation Under 13’s Age Group Championship in 1991, and two years later won the Under 14’s Championship outright, at Patshull Park in Shropshire.
The Golf Foundation funded club coaching which included Justin, and his reward for winning the Under 14’s in 1993 was to be invited to a coaching week at Wentworth in the Spring of 1994, led by then Ryder Cup European Team Captain Bernard Gallacher.
In 1996 Justin earned the Golf Foundation’s ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ for a period when he was winning many of amateur golf’s prestigious titles against elite adult players.
Rose has since repaid this early encouragement by supporting the Golf Foundation in return, speaking positively about the charity’s work and appearing as a guest during Foundation activity at major golf events, including taking on the kids by playing the easy-to-learn golf format, Tri-Golf, which is thriving in primary schools up and down the country.
Justin Rose is an ambassador for England Golf and its ‘Get into golf’ campaign. Get into golf – which is supported by Sky Sports – offers new and returning players an ideal way into the game with great value coaching from PGA professionals and an introduction to a sport which offers a good social life and many health benefits.
The Golf Foundation presented its ‘Spirit of Golf’ Award to Justin last year in recognition of the inspirational way in which he plays the game, an accolade previously given to among others, Tom Watson, Gary Player and Tony Jacklin.
Time will tell of course regarding the impact of golf in the Olympics to the sport as a whole. Junior golf enjoyed a boost through the legacy of the 2012 Olympics in London, as the Golf Foundation put golf at the heart of the School Games programme in schools. Through the School Games, the Golf Foundation is able to reach over 5,000 schools in England.
Stephen Lewis, Chairman of the Golf Foundation, said: “The Olympic legacy was important for us as a charity in 2012, both in terms of the growth of the School Games but also to promote to youngsters the positive values of sport, something we work on constantly through the Golf Foundation’s ‘Skills for Life’ activity.
“Everyone at the Golf Foundation is delighted for Justin Rose. The sport of golf couldn’t have a better ambassador than Justin in terms of a fine player and great sportsman who will no doubt inspire many new young people to try golf through his performance and positive attitude in winning gold for Team GB in Rio.”