Shirley Murray was named 2013 RBS Volunteer of the Year for her commitment to junior golf at Torvean Golf Club. This case study will focus on how she has influenced junior operations and made a great success of its ClubGolf programme.
Although Torvean is a long-standing ClubGolf delivery centre, it
was evident that there was much which could be done to strengthen
the provision of junior coaching at the club, particularly in
establishing a structure for coaching and gaining regular and
consistent input from a dedicated Junior Convener.
Shirley Murray became Level 1 Coach in 2008 and was appointed
Junior Convener at the club in 2009 as a response to the issues
Shirley recognised that the facility at Torvean was not being used
to its full potential. Not only that, she fully appreciated the
opportunity that had been put in place to get children on the
ground with a club in their hands, given various facilitating
factors, including: publicity from the Scottish Government; the
guidance from ClubGolf; the motivation from Regional Manager for
the Highlands & Islands, Willie MacKay and the eagerness of
volunteer coaches. From Shirley's perspective, all that remained
was making a move on the job at hand.
Although a current ClubGolf delivery centre, Murray immediately
set about building stronger links with all Active Schools
representatives in the Torvean area. To do this, she has conducted
coffee mornings and has been able to arrange coaching visits to the
club for local schools as part of the curriculum.
Pupils from local primary schools in the area were regularly
bussed to the club for tuition, prior to financial issues which
prevented this. Coaching continues to be provided for children from
the nearby Charleston Academy, whereby two groups of ten pupils
receive a six-week block of coaching prior to and following the
Murray helped to drive the club's marketing activities and
worked closely with the club president and committee to arrange a
pricing scheme for junior membership, which was communicated to the
local community. Leaflets were given to young people attending the
club, local press articles were arranged and the members'
newsletter was utilised to spread the word.
Revenues generated by the successful uptake of memberships as
part of the pricing scheme, particularly for full use of the
practice facilities for only £25 a year, allowed the club to
establish a three-hole short course for ClubGolf coaching and
junior development, as well as a long hitting area.
Working with Torvean Volunteer Coach Krista Allan, a social care
professional, and with the outlook that golf should be free and
open to all, Murray has integrated children from within the
Highlands' social care system within the club.
A 'Top 12' has been established within the junior section to
help to encourage and inspire developing youngsters to continue to
reach their potential. Making up the 12 are the eldest and most
experienced golfers in the junior section, for whom Murray has
tailored coaching and mentoring.
Murray also co-ordinated the first week-long ClubGolf Camp at
Torvean in 2012, despite not having an on-site professional at the
club - one of the requirements to become a host camp. This obstacle
was overcome by arranging to 'borrow' a professional for two hours
on each day from Loch Ness Golf Course.
Operationally, Murray's most important role has been
communicating with the Torvean board and encouraging their
enthusiasm for her development plan. Earning a place on the club's
management committee has also been vital. As she explained: "I have
a direct ear to the management team and I've found that helps to
explain objectives and have my plans accepted. I don't ask for
ridiculous things but the more communication between the club
committee and myself the better."
Encouraging local school visits to Torvean have proven to be
particularly effective and several pupils from Charleston Academy
have gone on to become members of the club as a direct result.
With the establishment of the bespoke par-3 course, juniors no
longer have to interrupt play on the main course. This has allowed
the number of coaching sessions to expand, incorporating three
groups on Fridays.
Murray's links with social care have been a great success story
for the club and children alike. Two of those invited to attending
club coaching, in particular have flourished. One young adult with
learning disabilities, whom Murray has incorporated into the junior
section, looks set to gain a single-figure handicap in the very
ClubGolf Camps provided the inspiration among the junior
coaching team at Torvean to incorporate away days at leading
professional events into the club calendar. Trips to Castle Stuart
for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and the Johnnie
Walker Championship at Gleneagles were arranged and instilled in
Torvean's young members the motivation to further develop their
skills and maximise their potential.
According to Murray, communicating with the board has helped to
establish the junior section as an important facet of the club for
young and old members alike. There is now a healthy respect for
juniors at Torvean, which makes in the clubhouse and on the golf
course less daunting and more welcoming places to spend their
Murray herself has benefitted as a result of her significant
effort in being recognised as the Young Persons Coach of the Year
for Highland by sportscotland.
Murray's work to establish and maintain close links with Active
Schools has been pivotal for the club. It has given Torvean a whole
new audience from which to attract young members, and they have
been invited into the club from every area of Inverness.
As the junior membership and the number of children involved in
ClubGolf coaching has steadily grown, additional revenue has been
created for the club. This has allowed them to re-invest in
improvements to the par-3 short course and practice area, encourage
more volunteers to achieve Level 1 Coach certification and provide
further inspiration for their juniors with visits to other courses
and professional tournaments.
Interacting with their peers outside of the club environment, as
provided by opportunities such as attending the Aberdeen Asset
Management Scottish Open, has taught Torvean's juniors golf
involves far more than simply putting club to ball. Their rounded
technical and social education will stand these juniors in good
stead for the future, making it more likely that they will take an
active interest in golf in the years to come.
With great thanks to Murray and her dedicated team of coaches and
volunteers, as well as parents, Torvean now has a thriving junior
section, which looks set to provide the club with a steady flow of
more senior members in future years. However, this certainly
doesn't mean the club is ready to rest on its laurels.
Said Murray: "I've been shopping around and talking to various
coaches from other clubs and getting new ideas to implement for the
future. I've also trying to get more parents involved in attending
coaching and comeptitive events."