Gairloch Golf Club has proudly provided ClubGolf coaching for 10 years between April and December, the dark cold winter nights and lack of indoor facilities ruling out a longer programme. However, the club is working to expand its delivery at home and in the community.
"It is a nomination for the community, as much as it is for golf.”
Gairloch adopted a business plan in 2014, supported by their Scottish Golf Club Development Officer, which focussed on increasing junior and adult membership, increasing playing time, and providing more social and competitive golf which included introducing Get into Golf.
In 2014, 24 juniors took part in ClubGolf coaching, a substantial rise from 13 the previous year, and more than a tenth of the 230 strong roll of Gairloch Primary and High Schools, many of whom live far away. The annual high school golf day attracts 36 players, 24% of the secondary school, which is the maximum their 9-hole course can accommodate. The aim is to sign all these players to the coaching programme.
With more juniors on board and only two regular and two stand-in volunteer coaches, the club engaged roving pro Sean Fay to deliver five two-hour sessions in the autumn, assisted by club members, which has helped four junior girls obtain their club handicap.
Coach Developer Allan Martin delivered a coach support session, and he and Sean encouraged seven assistants to undertake PGA Level 1 training which will take place this month at Gairloch. The club has also organised a Safeguarding Children course and will have the support of their roving pro again this season.
Helped by their Active Schools coordinator, Gairloch is delivering coaching in the local high school as part of the curriculum, delivered indoors through the winter using their new ClubGolf Xtreme equipment. The club is also helping the school with their Activity-based Tourism class to show children that golf involves running a business and providing a service for locals and visitors, as well as hitting a ball!
In 2015, Gairloch is hoping to extend their programme both at the club, by offering coaching on more days to attract those whose other activities clash with the current weekly session, and also in the community, at leisure centres and schools in association with High Life Highland and Active Schools.
Plans are afoot to take coaching out to local primary schools to save children having to travel to the club. They are looking at transport options to take their juniors to the driving range in Inverness and to friendly competitions with neighbouring clubs. Junior Medals have also been included in the fixture list.
Gairloch is taking a community approach for 2015, and is looking to recruit parents of juniors and advertise through local media to encourage other adults to Get into Golf. The club funded initial lessons to kick start the programme last year. Seeing the club full of children and adults for four hours on Monday evenings has been a massive boost which they are fully committed to developing in the coming year to increase membership and build a stronger club.
Speaking about the club’s nomination, Junior Convenor Ian Graham, said:
“It’s absolutely fantastic news and everyone is over the moon. We’ve put a lot of hard work in the last couple of years, particularly with the juniors, and it’s great to be recognised.
"We are a remote Highland club and we feel that sometimes you can be overlooked. We didn’t expect to get this far and it was a fantastic surprise. The whole club feels really proud.
“The award nomination will make a difference. We’re fortunate to have seven members going through the coaching qualification at the moment, and so it will help reinforce the belief that they are adding real value to the club, not just for juniors but for adults too.
“We offer coaching to new adult members as well as to those looking to take up the sport, so I think it will help promote the whole coaching programme which will attract new members.
“It is great publicity for Gairloch, for sport in general not just golf, and it will perhaps attract visitors here during the summer. We’ve certainly had a great response from the community who are not necessarily involved in the club and it is a nomination for the community, as much as it is for golf.”