Rothes Golf Club had fewer than 10 juniors in 2013.The club sought advice and direction on how to improve their junior section through their ClubGolf Regional Manager. After their first year of ClubGolf coaching, junior membership now exceeds 50.
“The nominations are a timely boost as it has been a difficult year and it means a lot to the loyal members who are passionate about the club."
Rothes went through the steps to introduce ClubGolf; joining the PVG scheme, recruiting club members to become volunteer coaches, and funding their training. Their five level one coaches believe the qualification sets out clear and simple direction for them to correctly deliver fun and safe golf to kids, teach them the right things to become better golfers and be trained properly for professionals in the future.
The club then spoke to Active Schools for Moray as they wanted to offer coaching to as many as possible. Rothes has a population of approximately 1200 with another 1574 in surrounding villages without their own courses, so through the schools programme they have attracted a wider group of children to the club.
Rothes have aimed create an environment for children to be introduced to golf and work through the programme at different levels to hopefully have all skills required by the age of 16 to 17 to be an elite golfer. Having generated so much interest in the revamped junior section within the small community, the club has introduced sessions for 5 to 8 year- olds concentrating on fun, games, and an easy introduction to clubs and how to hold them.
They have sourced sponsorship and undertaken fundraising with everything going straight into the junior section to pay for new equipment, professional coaching through the roving pro fund, and a club shirt and jersey for each member when they first join.
Roving pro Robbie Stewart delivered five two-hour sessions, covering all aspects of the game, with additional on-course coaching for older children wanting to know how to get round the course as well as how to hit a ball properly. They benefit from instant feedback through video on a tablet and this experience has raised their own expectations and renewed their enthusiasm and direction; they know they can and want to improve their golf.
The older age group is not the strongest part of the junior section number-wise, but the section which convenor Neal Anderson feels most comfortable with as their attitude, teamwork, and the way they conduct themselves is very positive. Reward has come in the form of competitive success, winning the Under 18 singles scratch, under 18 boys’ handicap, and the Pennant team event in the Banffshire Junior Championships. They were also runners up in the Banffshire Junior Pennant League having won the west section. The local press coverage from the juniors’ success has helped to raise the profile of the club.
Space is limited at the nine-hole course so the lower half is used for coaching youngsters while those with handicaps play the top half of the course twice at the same time. They are now looking to consolidate what they can offer juniors by securing funding to build a bespoke practice area. Priority would be given to juniors, but it would also benefit all their members.
This is seen as key to the medium to long term growth of Rothes Golf Club, and they are keen to build on their first year’s successful ClubGolf delivery, and invest in their future as soon as possible.
Junior Convenor Neal Anderson, who is also shortlisted for RBS Volunteer of the Year, said:
“I think it’s humbling for both myself and the club to be recognised so everyone involved is pleased to receive this.
“The volunteers and parents have been great and the kids have really committed to coming along every week throughout the season. Everyone in rural clubs realises competition for members is fierce, so we really need to work to make sure we’re attractive to as many juniors as possible.
“The nominations are a timely boost as it has been a difficult year and it means a lot to the loyal members who are passionate about the club. They have a revived belief that the club is going in the right direction, and we’ve signed other members, not just juniors, by offering different membership options to the parents of ClubGolfers so we’ve had half a dozen families joining.
"Next year will be even better!”