• Golf Foundation thanks The R&A and golf industry for helping to raise profile and opportunities for young golfers.
• Around 15,000 youngsters attend The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale free of charge.
• Golf Foundation welcome more than 6,000 visitors to The R&A Swing Zone in Spectator Village.
Around 15,000 youngsters attended The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale thanks to The R&A’s ‘Kids go Free’ initiative.
Fans aged 16 and under were able to watch Jordan Spieth lift the Claret Jug as he was crowned Champion Golfer of the Year at the Southport links.
And now Golf Foundation, the national child-centered charity, has thanked The R&A and other key industry individuals and companies for helping to raise the charity’s profile throughout the Championship.
The Open ‘perfect pitch’ for children
The Open became the ‘perfect pitch’ for the Golf Foundation and partners to show a wide audience that golf can be a wonderful sport for young people – offering ‘Skills for Life’, a game for life, and a healthy life.
The Golf Foundation opened its junior area at Royal Birkdale on the first practice day and welcomed more than 6,000 visitors to The R&A Swing Zone locate in a prime position at the Spectator Village.
Young people were able to play ‘Tri-Golf’ games and hit their very first shots at colourful target under the safe supervision of the Golf Foundation team, while the whole family could putt for prizes.
The Foundation’s Putting Challenge, with prizes donated by Titliest, was also free to play with nearly 4,000 visits from two-year-olds to grandparents.
The Golf Foundation shared the Swing Zone space with a select group of 22 PGA Professionals, the PGA present to support The R&A by providing free golf lessons for all levels of golfer, giving more than 3,000 lessons during The Open. Twenty-five school and golf club groups took part in team Tri-Golf.
Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen in the ‘Swing Zone’
In the Swing Zone the Foundation team supported the UPS ‘Bags 4 Birdies’ campaign in which for every birdie Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen score in the four Majors this year, UPS donates a set of golf clubs to a deserving youngster in one of eight international territories. The Foundation has been entrusted to donate 14 sets to British children and Westwood made a personal appearance to present two of these to pupils from local Waterloo Primary School.
Louis Oosthuizen meanwhile was guest of honour for the Foundation’s National StreetGolf Final at nearby Formby Hall, an initiative run with the Premier League which together with 11 Premier League and Championship football clubs encourages kids from typically non-golfing communities to get into golf. Oosthuizen joined in the fun and presented the prizes to the boys and girls who were all wearing their home football club shirts.
Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “The StreetGolf Final – and the Tri-Golf for younger kids – shows how the Golf Foundation is making the sport more accessible to young people. We then work hard to ensure that all of our projects have a link to a local golf club through our network of 400 child-friendly HSBC Golf Roots Centres. Louis was absolutely fantastic and generous in the time he gave us, as was Lee the following day; both really encouraging to the youngsters, a day I’m sure they’ll remember for years to come.
“The fact that Sky TV filmed the StreetGolf Final in detail was great for us and as the week progressed we became aware of a real spike in interest across social media for our efforts as a charity that offers ‘Golf for All’. We were delighted with how this media interest raised our profile significantly during the week and we now need to build on this momentum.”
Sports Minister takes the Tri-Golf challenge
Mr Pyle also praised Sports Minister Tracey Crouch who attended the Swing Zone and, as someone new to golf, wanted to learn more about opportunities for young people in the sport. The Minsiter also took on the kids at Tri-Golf and posted a top-10 leaderboard score in the 30 second challenge!
Another feature of The Open was the Foundation’s support of the ‘HSBC Hour’, in which more than 250 golf clubs in England, Scotland and Wales staged an HSBC Hour during Open week to welcome new golfers to the club environment. HSBC Ambassadors Brian O’Driscoll and Tim Henman returned the favour by making visits to the Golf Foundation area to encourage the boys and girls; Brian even became an honorary ‘Tri-Golf Coach’ and led a session to the delight of all.