Peebles Golf club established a full ClubGolf programme in 2013, and immediately set out to develop it further in its second year, through six clear objectives which have been achieved or exceeded.
“We are striving to make Peebles a family-friendly community club and a place where youngsters can come and enjoy their golf."
Peebles' first objective was to increase the number of volunteer coaches at the club from two to six and four club members, including two from the main committee, went through the Level 1 training at last February. All six have played an active role in the coaching programme alongside Roving Pro Allan Martin, in addition to providing support on the Junior Committee which now meets once a month before the main committee to plan and implement the junior programme.
With more coaches, the aim was to double the number of junior members. They introduced a full under-12 category which included participation in the 15-week ClubGolf programme costing £50, but using the ClubGolf and Scottish Government £20 discount voucher, the majority of youngsters only paid £30. Membership more than doubled as 37 juniors joined through the new category, with 58 juniors active in the ClubGolf programme.
A fundraising plan to make the junior section self-sufficient exceeded its financial target, allowing the surplus from activities to go towards practice facilities. The highlight was “The Odd Shaped Ball” at the golf club for parents, working alongside Peebles Football Club juniors and Peebles Rugby Club juniors. It raised £3,300 across the three sports, having attracted a sell-out crowd of 106 guests. Ryder Cup practice day tickets were used as one of the auction items.
Peebles also secured the Ryder Cup at the club for a day, inviting members to have their photograph taken with the trophy in return for a donation which raised £350, while raffles on junior presentation nights resulted in a further £350. Almost £5,000 has been raised through fundraising and sponsorship over the past two years.
This has enabled Peebles to improve facilities for juniors both on and off the course. A new practice facility development programme is well underway to increase the size of the practice area, install a synthetic grass area for coaching, and a short game area near the clubhouse improving access for juniors. They also moved the juniors into the club’s larger visitor locker rooms to provide more space and create a more welcoming environment. They sourced cut-price lockers from Lothianburn Golf Club and now have good quality locker space for more than 40 junior members.
The fifth objective was to integrate the ClubGolf junior programme into the club’s new business plan which leads with the mission statement, “An inclusive family friendly club at the heart of the local community”, highlighting how important the club’s juniors and their families are to growing and developing the business.
Improving the practice facilities was another key area of the business plan brought about by the success of the junior programme, while the increased emphasis on coaching has led to the start of the recruitment process for a new PGA Professional, with experience in running a successful ClubGolf programme a key requirement.
The club felt it important to maximise the benefits of the Ryder Cup coming to Scotland. They organised a Junior Ryder Cup Challenge Day as a ‘grand finale’ to summer coaching to reward children who took part. Forty juniors were split into five teams of mixed ages, each representing a Ryder Cup player, to compete in five different challenges to which parents were invited to watch and have lunch in the clubhouse.
Peebles also ran a free bus to one Ryder Cup practice day at Gleneagles which “sold out”, for volunteer coaches and juniors using the tickets accessed through ClubGolf, and for families who had bought tickets. Having been invited “inside the ropes” for the Junior Ryder Cup friendship match, the club chose to reward two youngsters who had been to ClubGolf coaching every week, and their two longest serving volunteers. All three Ryder Cup activities received significant coverage in the local press.
Beyond their six objectives, the club launched a Peebles Golf Club junior Facebook page to increase regular engagement with youngsters and parents. They staged a ‘sell-out’ Christmas Party in the clubhouse to keep kids involved in the winter, which was free of charge to all primary school-aged members. The club’s leading junior, Darren Howie, was selected for the Scotland Boys Under-16s squad and attended a ClubGolf coaching to inspire the next generation together with his brother Craig, a former Scottish Boys Champion.
Looking ahead, the club is working with Peebles High School, through Active Schools, and Borders Sport & Leisure to offer indoor coaching to existing ClubGolf junior members, high school pupils and Get into Golf adults. For Peebles Golf Club, the continued growth and development of the Junior section has contributed to a significant turnaround in the club’s financial fortunes, moving from major losses in 2012-13 to a healthy profit in 2014.
Speaking about the club's nomination for the second year in a row, vice-captain and former junior convenor, Graham Lowther, said:
“We are very proud to have been nominated for the Award again, as one of only a few clubs who have been shortlisted twice. It’s great recognition for the hard work of the volunteers involved, and to the juniors and parents who have supported us over the past two years.
“We are striving to make Peebles a family-friendly community club and a place where youngsters can come and enjoy their golf and enjoy being part of the club.
"Being a finalist in the Awards helps us keep building our profile locally and nationally, and hopefully we can go one better when the winners are announced next month.”