Having won the title of ClubGolf Junior Club of the Year 2014, Peebles has continued to develop their golf club with juniors and families at its heart, culminating in another successful year in 2015.
There was no resting on their laurels, and their third year of running the ClubGolf programme has resulted in the club meeting its business plan objectives of:
- increasing participation and membership
- appointing a new PGA club pro
- improving facilities for juniors
- being at the heart of the community
- family golf, by laying the foundations for the establishment of Get into Golf for adult beginners.
“Winning the award last year was a huge achievement for us and an endorsement of what we are doing, so it forced us to set the bar higher", said Junior Convenor, Gavin Carruthers.
"We set a challenge to see if we could go further with more kids, more coaching, and more structure to our lesson plans, and we’re already planning further improvements this coming season.”
They embarked on a PR campaign to encourage more newcomers to the club. Flyers were distributed to the local primary schools, their coaches visited the largest primary school during their Health Week to run ClubGolf taster sessions for Primary 1 to 3 children, all of which was backed up by editorial features in the Peebles Life magazines promoting junior golf.
As a result, they increased junior membership by 48 to well over 100 in total, with a significant increase in those taking part in coaching and junior competitions. The growth in numbers meant more coaches were needed, and three further members have passed their PGA Level One, one of whom is the club’s Boys Champion, with another parent helper also involved.
Largely as a result of the ClubGolf programme’s success, Peebles were able to appoint a new PGA club professional in Steve Johnston last April, who has made a major impact on the junior programme. Steve sits on the junior committee and has created a 16-week lesson plan for the volunteer coaches, split into skills development in putting, chipping, pitching and driving.
Children were given three weeks of coaching across each discipline, with a skills challenge in the fourth week. When each passed the skills test, they received a certificate of achievement, presented in the clubhouse which has boosted their sense of achievement and created a buzz in the clubhouse on ‘Skills Test Sundays’.
Steve has since appointed a PGA assistant, Jamie Allan, who has created a new winter skills programme, held indoors each Sunday in the winter months.
For the older children, the club professional, assisted by volunteer coach David Tait, developed an ’18-step guide to gaining a handicap’, with a series of weekly activities held concurrently with the younger children. Four ClubGolfers gained playing handicaps in 2015, with the template set to be rolled out for more in 2016.
Peebles has continued to cement their place in the heart of the community, teaming up with other sports in the town: their sell-out ‘Odd Shaped Ball’ raised £6,000 for the golf, football, rugby and netball clubs. They were all invited to the Odd Shaped Ball Golf Day which featured sports-themed course adaptations and a barbecue raised a further £500 and attracted many non-golfers to visit the club for the first time.
The fundraising means the junior section continues to be self-sufficient, and that coupled with their Junior Club of the Year prize money, has allowed them to invest in a new Huxley all-weather surface on the practice ground for ClubGolf coaching, a new short game area with bunkers, and a kids-only practice putting green.
In addition to their work in local primary schools, they are now using the High School for our Ladies Get into Golf beginner coaching. The first group of nine included three ClubGolf mums, with a third taking advantage of introductory membership since November. They also ran an end of season Flag Day for juniors and their parents and an informal ‘Dads & Lads’ /’Mums & Young Chums’ competition on Sunday afternoons after the ClubGolf sessions.
The Club has also increased the number of full adult members by 50 in the last year, showing that a healthy junior section which attracts families can mean a profitable business. Gavin Carruthers believes their success driven by the development of junior participation has helped Peebles become a modern, family-focused golf club. He said:
“We’re really humbled by being shortlisted for the third year running as we appreciate how many other clubs are doing a good job. We just focus on what we’re doing and it’s great to be recognised.
“We have great supportive parents and now we have some of the juniors’ mums taking and interest so they can go round the course too. Our primary role is getting more children playing with so many activities to choose from, and trying to make golf equal to those sports.”
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