The R&A - Working for Golf

Schoolchildren line up alongside GolfSixes stars

● More than 200 schoolchildren will tee it up at the Centurion Club to get the Golf Foundation’s ‘GolfSixes League’ underway.

● The fun team format league is companion series to the GolfSixes tournament aiming to attract younger audiences to golf.

Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup Captains Thomas Bjørn and Catriona Matthew set to compete at GolfSixes.

More than 200 schoolchildren will tee it up at the Centurion Club this week to get the Golf Foundation’s ‘GolfSixes League’ underway.

The Golf Foundation has been invited by the European Tour to stage a demonstration event of the GolfSixes League – a project that is set to inspire young golfers through its innovative, shorter team format, featuring 125 golf clubs this summer. The charity is one of many supported by The R&A.

The Golf Foundation is the European Tour’s Official Delivery Partner for GolfSixes League in the UK and the charity has developed the fun team format as a companion series to the GolfSixes tournament – held this weekend at Centurion Club (May 5-6) – which aims to attract new and younger audiences to golf.

GolfSixes League

As some of the world’s golf stars do battle, including Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup Captains Thomas Bjørn and Catriona Matthew, the Golf Foundation will present some of its own young stars of the future. On Friday and Sunday, more than 200 boys and girls from 16 local schools and six golf clubs will compete together as they officially tee-off the new Golf Sixes League for the UK.

Throughout the summer the GolfSixes League, a joint initiative with England Golf, will feature 125 golf clubs from 25 regional inter-club leagues playing weekly team golf. Around 1,500 boys and girls will be representing their golf clubs, wearing coloured team shirts with GolfSixes branding; squads of 12 juniors will play six holes against other clubs in a Texas Scramble format. Youngsters work with their club’s PGA professional during the week to prepare for the big matches at the weekend, supported by watching parents. Lasting just over an hour, matches should be fast, fun and a foundation for a long-lasting love of golf.

Matt Fitzpatrick signs autographs at the GolfSixes
Matt Fitzpatrick signs autographs at the GolfSixes

Shorter Formats of Golf

The project was created following Golf Foundation commissioned research by Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. which found that many young people wanted to play fewer holes, in team formats and at different courses, while parents see golf clubs as a safe environment and have expressed enthusiasm for active involvement in events.

With additional funding by Sport England, the GolfSixes League is a significant expansion of a pilot project last year that featured six regional leagues, garnering highly positive feedback. Some 80% of kids wanted to play more golf after GolfSixes and 61% said they loved golf”. Some 90% of events featured supportive Mums and Dads, including volunteer roles. There was a 65% increase in affiliated membership (73 members at the start, 121 at the end).

The aim is to boost retention in clubs as a key part of the Foundation’s ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ strategy as a charity that helps young people from all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy the playing and personal benefits of the sport.

Tour players with GolfSixes kids at  Centurion last year
Tour players with GolfSixes kids at Centurion last year

Expansion Plans

The leagues take place mainly in England this summer but include five pilot leagues in Wales and Scotland, with this number expected to rise significantly in 2019 in support of Wales Golf and Scottish Golf.

Meanwhile, the European Tour has worked with partners in Europe to set up GolfSixes Leagues in Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said, We are hugely excited by the expansion of the GolfSixes League in 2018 and our partnership with the European Tour. We learned last year that this fun and shorter team format encouraged young players to practise and play more often at golf clubs while attracting the interest and support of their parents. 

“This charity offers the ‘Skills for Life, a game for life and a healthy life’, and GolfSixes is an innovative new way in which we can all work together to bring on the next generation of players at club level.”

GolfSixes is just one strand of the Golf Foundation’s national HSBC Golf Roots programme which is reaching 500,000 youngsters a year in schools, communities and golf clubs with the express aim of helping 50,000 experience golf at a golf club and creating an additional 15,000 new regular golfers in golf clubs every year. All of the charity’s work is underpinned by the teaching of life skills, termed ‘Skills for Life’, that help children as they play the sport and in their wider lives.