Strathendrick - 2013 RBS Junior Club of the Year

Strathendrick was chosen as the 2013 RBS Junior Club of the Year Award as the leading new ClubGolf facility. This case study focusses on how the club achieved success in the first year of becoming a ClubGolf delivery centre.

Strathendrick Case Study

1.    The Challenge
Strathendrick Junior Convener David Hood, pictured above receiving the award from Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, described the club as "dying on its feet", as recently as the start of the 2012 season.

Due to falling membership numbers, competition from neighbouring venues and no established method for attracting new members, the club was experiencing financial difficulties, as they had suffered financial loses over the previous three-year period.

2.    Requirements
Hood visited several golf courses as a fact-finding exercise and for idea generation to discover how to tackle these challenges. He found all of the successful clubs he visited had a vibrant junior section and each was part of the ClubGolf programme.

It was, therefore, decided that Strathendrick would become a ClubGolf club and more attention would be paid to junior issues to the benefit of the club as a whole.

3.    Approach
The club first contacted ClubGolf's Central Scotland Regional Manager Mandy Martin, who provided the necessary information on requirements for establishing ClubGolf at Strathendrick.

Once these points were satisfied, the club approached roving teaching professional Barry Campbell to lead its ClubGolf coaching. He was assisted by friend Jean Leitch. Leitch was later named on the shortlist of nominees for RBS Volunteer of the Year. The club's Lady Captain was also involved and became the club's designated Child Protection Officer.

In response to neighbouring club Buchanan Castle's close ties with local schools, and to avoid any possible conflict by targeting the same audience, Strathendrick carried out mail shots and delivered flyers to local community centres and stores in the West Dunbartonshire area. Albeit a recognised socially and economically challenged area, this allowed the club to attract the attention of non-traditional golfing families.

For those looking to follow-up on ClubGolf sessions by joining the club, a very reasonable one-year membership fee of £30 was offered, which included 10 additional ClubGolf sessions.

To host the coaching sessions, the club created a specific junior development area and allocated one evening midweek for junior only access to this between 5-7pm.
Strathendrick also took advantage of the roll-out of the inaugural ClubGolf Summer Camps by hosting its own camp, which attracted seven young people for the week.

With the aim of attracting more female members, the club has appointed the first ever girl as junior captain.

Internal competitions were established to bring each of the four sections at the club (Senior, Gents, Ladies and Junior) together to foster interaction and engagement.

4.    Results
By all of its collective efforts, Strathendrick attained 42 ClubGolfers by the end of season one. The target at the start of the programme was 15. Catering for all interested parties also meant that one midweek ClubGolf session soon grew to two, plus one additional session at the weekend.

Hosting ClubGolf Camps generated great interest among adult club members and many stepped forward to assist in the delivery of coaching as volunteers. Seniors and Ladies arranged to take groups of children onto the course after ClubGolf coaching for further development. A six-hole mixed fours match has also taken place on various weekends, when seniors and ladies take juniors onto the course to play, while simultaneously instilling knowledge on etiquette and rules.

The internal competitions fostered interaction between the various sections and were among the most successful events in the club's history in terms of entry figures. These included a Texas Scramble, involving teams containing one member from each club section, as well as a Ryder Cup-style competition pitting the juniors against the adult members. According to Hood, this created a great upturn in club spirit.

With the continued success of ClubGolf coaching and scheduled competitive events, the junior section began turning a small profit, which was reinvested. Campbell's fee as the pro hosting ClubGolf camps was generously donated back to the junior section. This helped the club to arrange two golf outings in 2012 for juniors, helping to engage their interest further. 

5.    Benefits
With an increase in junior activity, the club generated lots of media attention, having several articles published in local newspapers. This again helped to publicise Strathendrick as a junior-friendly club and established the club as a fulcrum for the local community. Representatives of the club have also been invited into the studio of Your Radio for a live interview focussing on the benefits of ClubGolf and how the club is helping the local community.

According to Hood, however, of greatest benefit to the club has been the increase in club 'togetherness'. In his words: "It has brought an ailing club together and the mileage you can get from that is unbelievable. In golf clubs, a lot of long term members don't want change but if they are going to survive they have to be open to fresh, new innovative ideas."

6.    Future
Strathendrick has already exceeded all expectations which were determined at the outset of a three-year development programme in early 2012. Four additional coaches have been put in place to allow the club to cope with the increased  interest in ClubGolf coaching, including a former junior who Hood described as "heading down the wrong path" until  intervention from Leitch.

A big focus for the club moving forward is how they can increase girls' involvement in golf. With the appointment of the new junior captain, Laura Jackman, it is hoped that the club can attract at least another six girls to become involved in ClubGolf at Strathendrick. The club has targeted between 12-15 girls to be involved in ClubGolf in 2013.

If you asked Hood if ClubGolf works, his answer is a definitive "YES!"

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