The Whitecraigs was shortlisted for the 2013 RBS Junior Club of the Year Award as the club offering the best provision of facilities for juniors. This case study focuses on how these facilities have allowed the club to continue to deliver ClubGolf successfully.
1. The Challenge
The club successfully implemented ClubGolf in 2008 to boost its
junior membership, which was described by Eddie Livingston, Junior
Development Officer, as "the best thing we've ever done to develop
As the junior section grew, the issue faced by the club was how to
deal with increased junior numbers in terms of available golf
facilities and how to ensure each child was given the same
opportunity to develop.
With the growing popularity of its introductory 'Wee Wonders'
category, (ages 5-10), established in 2010 and the growing numbers
of new juniors requiring coaching, the facilities provided at the
club were no longer sufficient in order to ensure appropriate
coaching was being delivered. Therefore, the club made the decision
to extend its golfing facilities.
The first decision taken by the club was to extend its six-hole
par-3 course to nine holes, which is described as "more suitable
for the beginners whilst also being challenging for the older
This included building two bridges to access new land to
accommodate the extra holes. The total cost of the project was in
the region of £30,000, which represented a significant investment
by the club.
To provide year-round coaching opportunities, the practice range
was also extended to include all-weather mats that can accommodate
up to nine juniors at a time. It is planned that the new nine-hole
wee course will also include all-weather mats and improvement of
the tees. This will greatly enhance the coaching experience for the
Wee Wonders and the juniors.
The club has also introduced an innovative payment structure for
the Wee Wonders category where £36 a year provides them with
unrestricted use of the nine-hole wee course, Level One coaching
during the season, and practice balls, kindly donated by the
It is mandatory that when boys and girls in the Wee Wonders
category play or attend a coaching session, they are accompanied at
all times by a parent/guardian. At coaching sessions, parents are
asked to listen carefully to the coaches, so they can continue the
coaching process during their own practice sessions.
Care has also been taken to ensure that a sufficient number of
coaches are present for each coaching session. This produces a
better coach/pupil ratio, thus making it possible for the Wee
Wonders to improve and gain confidence sooner, and for the new
juniors to gain a 'club' handicap on the nine-hole wee course by
demonstrating their required golf skills, knowledge and
understanding of etiquette, course management and pace of play. It
is a fact that new juniors can't wait to play their first medals on
the main course, thus gaining their 'competition' handicap.
It is extremely important to build good relationships with
parents. The club understands the need for parents to receive
regular feedback on their child's progress. "The relationship with
parents is vital", said Eddie Livingston. "You have to be
approachable, you have to listen, and you have to empathise with
where they are coming from. They have paid money and they want a
return on their investment and you have to understand that."
The most positive outcomes of the above are as follows:
a. The nine-hole wee course will continue to
benefit from being improved. It has graduated from an under-used
six-hole course to a well maintained golf and practice
b. Being on first name terms, juniors can
consider themselves as being on equal terms with the coaches. It is
their club and course as much as anyone else's.
c. As a coaching group, they make new friends
with whom they can practice between sessions.
d. Combination of the nine-hole wee course and
the Level One programme facilitates good practice. They enjoy the
different skills to be learned and the opportunity to improve in a
more suitable environment.
The club is now one of the best provisioned in Scotland, going
from 110 juniors in 2009 to 155 juniors in 2013. In the same
period, by introducing the Wee Wonders category, it has introduced
golf to the 5-10 years age group that has 70 current members and 53
on the waiting list.
With a healthy number of juniors moving through the ranks and over
225 members under the age of 18 in total, the club can be happy
that the immediate future is secure.
It is important to continue the process of inviting members to
become Level One coaches and three more are set to undergo training
for this in May 2013. As it is the club's aim to maintain the
maximum membership for Wee Wonders and juniors, it is vital not
only to continue recruiting coaches but also to continue developing
With the help of ClubGolf, Livingston, a former P.E. teacher,
hopes to visit a local primary school to enquire if they would like
to be invited to use the new nine-hole course. Livingston envisages
teaching Primary 7 pupils the basic skills over several weeks in
the summer term, with a view to holding a competition based on
their ability. This would form part of their P.E. curriculum or,
more likely, as an after school activity.
This venture would allow youngsters the opportunity to play golf
perhaps for the first time. It would also 'showcase' the club and
so attract possible new members