‘Golf camp’ fun for young players

ClubGolf Camps are returning for a second year in 2013.

The inaugural ClubGolf Camps were initiated in 2012 as part of the wider ClubGolf Festival, which included a mass participation ‘VIP Event’ at Castle Stuart. This saw over 400 ClubGolfers demonstrate their skills in front of prominent Scottish tour stars Colin Montgomerie and Martin Laird, as well as First Minister Alex Salmond.

In total, over 800 young golfers took part in the week-long summer camps, which were delivered by 53 clubs, and this year is going to be even bigger and better.

From July 1 to 5 it is hoped that 75 camps will take place all over Scotland, and more than 1,000 children will be encouraged to join in with the fun.

More than half of last year’s venues agreed to host their second camp less than a week after registration commenced, which was no surprise to Dumfries and County Golf Club professional Stuart Syme.

He said: “We saw ClubGolf Camps as an opportunity to get involved with kids that we haven’t engaged with yet through our own programmes of coaching and membership, and it turned out to be a big success.

“We sent out information about it using our membership database but also posted it on Facebook and Twitter to direct people back to the ClubGolf website, where they could sign-up.

“It all filled up no problem, so we are hopeful that we can get even more signed up this year from that same method, and we have had a bit of a response already.”

Dumfries and County has felt the benefit of incorporating the camps into its wider junior offering. Not only did it help to attract new members into the club, but provided coaching materials which have been used to pique the interest of other youngsters making tentative steps in golf.

Stuart added: “The supply of materials allowed us to do some fun games. It didn’t follow the traditional format of getting kids to line up on the range and hit balls, where they only learn how to hit full shots.

Fife club Scotscraig experienced similar success, with a direct expansion of its junior membership after local children were treated to the ClubGolf Camp experience. So impressed was club professional Craig Mackie that he questioned why any club would decide against becoming a host in 2013.

Craig added: “We got a few new members from the camps last year, which was good, and it created a bit of buzz around the area with people hearing about it from the schools.

“We do a lot of work with ClubGolf anyway, so hosting a camp was just an add-on to what we already do, which was great. This made it an easy transition from the coaching we already offer.”

He added that given the financial benefits presented to professionals offering ClubGolf Camps, there was no question over whether he would advise his counterparts around Scotland to get involved.

“We don’t always like to talk about the financial side of things but, for the professional to be paid for delivering the camp, there are lots of advantages.

“From a business point of view, it is a great move. Not only are you creating more income for the week that you would not be otherwise, but you also create the potential for further individual lessons and it’s another string to your bow in trying to encourage more members into the club. In my eyes, it’s an absolute no-brainer.”

Registration for all clubs looking to deliver a ClubGolf Camp for the first time in 2013 opened on Monday. With limited spaces available, interested club officials, professionals, coaches and volunteers are being urged to move quickly to avoid disappointment. Camps will be allocated to clubs on a first come, first served basis.

All clubs that host a successful camp for the first time in 2013 will be given the resources required to deliver the five-day programme of events free of charge. Returning ClubGolf Camp venues will be offered a reimbursement of �100 to be invested towards the PGA Level 1 Advanced coaching course for an interested volunteer.

With another big summer in the offing, ClubGolf manager Jackie Davidson is excited by the prospect of seeing more than 1,000 juniors pitch up at their local club and being exposed to golf with only 14 months to go until the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

“ClubGolf Camps form an important part of our bid to introduce as many children as possible to golf ahead of the Ryder Cup returning to Scotland in 2014,” she said.

“Hopefully, if we can do this, we will see junior golf continue to grow in Scotland, more and more young people becoming active club members and more Scottish golfers being named in European Ryder Cup teams of the future.”