Falkirk Golf Club was shortlisted for the 2013 RBS Junior Club of the Year as the leading existing ClubGolf facility for the previous year. This case study will focus on how the club has achieved continued success as a delivery centre for ClubGolf.
1. The Challenge
Falkirk Golf Club's junior membership has grown sharply from
around eight junior members in 2009 to 120 in 2012. This has been
achieved through the introduction of the ClubGolf programme, which
the club runs from May-June, followed up by a further block of
coaching in September.
However, the club identified that to maintain its success in the
long-term, it would have to focus on retaining members.
During discussions with his predecessor and now Junior Match
Secretary, Allan Bryson, Junior Convener Steven Lytham highlighted
the considerable success of the Falkirk junior programme thus far.
Rather than consolidate their successes, however, the decision was
taken to develop new innovative ideas, as well as ensure the
existing activities were maintained. Through these additional
opportunities, the club hoped to retain its current membership and
attract new youngsters to join.
In order to focus more closely on junior issues, having seen the
section grow exponentially over recent years, the club's junior
team was extended from Junior Convener alone to also incorporate
the roles of Junior Match Secretary and Junior Section
"The magnitude of what's going on," was how Junior Convener
Steven Lytham assessed the club's principle approach to retaining
members. Juniors are continually engaged through upwards of 50
medals every year, which are combined with away days and a calendar
of events through the winter, which attract approximately 40
juniors weekly. Juniors also have access to complimentary coaching
from the club professional, as well as discounts in the pro shop
Contact is maintained with parents and children at all times
through a Facebook page, which was established in 2011. Here, one
of the junior team will post updates daily to encourage constant
interaction. It is also used as a tool for welcoming competition
entries and posting draw sheets, as well as general information
Falkirk finds itself in the fortunate situation of having a
nine-hole par-3 course that sits alongside the more senior 18-hole
layout. This has been used to the advantage of the junior section.
Here the club avoids any possible conflict with the adult
membership by conducting junior coaching and allowing unrestricted
junior access. They have also offered over a room within the
clubhouse as a junior lounge.
In order for competition to remain healthy but to avoid
discouraging less able golfers, the junior section has been split
into three sub-sections, which are categorised for competitive
purposes by age and ability.
To avoid any pressure being placed on coaches to attend every
session, Falkirk has been careful to enlist eight qualified coaches
and additional volunteers, thereby allowing coaching to follow a
Lytham has described the junior section Facebook page as critical
to the club's success. "Everything revolves around that. The
Facebook page has helped with the success of everything else." As
well as being a free and wide-reaching means of communication, it
is its own marketing tool, generating more interest in junior golf
at Falkirk every time a parent of child uploads a new image or
'likes' a post. The club have also found it to be a more
personable, immediate and ultimately engaging way of contacting
current and prospective members.
Competitive play is recognised as essential at Falkirk, helping
to keep juniors engaged, allowing for appreciation of their
development and promoting interaction among their peer group,
notably through Facebook. This also allowed for the establishment
of separate summer and winter prize givings, the last of which was
attended by over 130 parents.
A rota system approach to coaching ensures the commitment
accepted by coaches at the club is perhaps not as great as it would
otherwise be. This ensures that every member of the team accepts a
fair share of the responsibilities without ever feeling
overwhelmed. Six new volunteers have been welcomed into the team in
2013 and will form part of this rota.
As a result of all of the positive work being done at Falkirk,
not least the access to subsidised professional coaching and the
par-3 course, three juniors from Falkirk, including one girl, were
inducted into the Scottish Golf Union's Academy Programme in
Through the collective efforts of the club over the last four
years, Falkirk's junior membership has grown from 8 to 120. This is
also reflected in the number of junior members active in club
competitions, which has increased from 8 to 80 over the same
The unlimited access that is offered to Falkirk youngsters through
the par-3 course has ensured that before progressing to forward
tees on the 18-hole layout, juniors are well versed in the basics
of the game, including rules and etiquette.
As competitive play is maintained year-round, youngsters are
less likely to experience a drop off in skill level, which has
ultimately led to an abundance of able young golfers, who are more
likely to pursue membership at Falkirk in following years.
As evidenced by the turnout at the most recent junior
prizegiving, Falkirk has a considerable level of parent activity,
which has benefitted the club in maintaining a high level of
entries for junior medals high, attracting volunteer coaches and in
inviting wider friends and family into the club.
Going forward, Falkirk is set to follow a structured action plan,
which was established by Lytham toward the end of 2012, more
closely. This has identified the opportunity for improvements in
the areas of people, policies & procedures, ClubGolf, junior
play, communication and budget & funding to benefit the overall
operation of the junior section.
After success in previous years, creative fundraising methods
will be a feature again in 2013. As well as an Awards for All grant
- for which the club are currently in the process of applying -
ball collecting will continue, with bag-packing at a local
supermarket also scheduled. 2013 may also see the return of the
'Rag Bag' medal - in which the club accepted a bag of old clothes
as the medal entry fee which can then be exchanged for a cash
payment - and fund-raising raffles.