Ian Graham has been responsible for the Gairloch Golf Club’s junior section and adult coaching for the last three years which has made a fantastic difference to the club.
When Ian took over as Junior Convenor, the club had fewer than 10 children regularly attending coaching and now there are over 30 actively involved, with equal numbers of boys and girls, which is a significant proportion of the 220 area’s school roll. What’s more, numbers have grown through word of mouth, with initiatives like giving the children juice and sandwiches before lessons boosting participation and energy levels.
Ian’s efforts in encouraging juniors to take part in coaching have increased membership too, with over 50 juniors now accounting for more than 25% of the club’s total.
President Ian Percy nominated Ian for the Volunteer of the Year award He said:
“Over the last three years, the junior program at Gairloch Golf Club has gone from strength to strength and we believe that Ian has developed one of the best and most vibrant junior coaching programmes in the Highlands.
“His willingness to work in partnership with schools and other sporting organisations to the benefit all children and his dedication in helping to promote golf is exceptional. Ian will argue that he couldn’t have achieved so much without the support of the club, the volunteer coaches, ClubGolf, Sean Fay and Allan Martin but without his organisational and motivational skills, there would have been nothing to support.”
As well as organising all adult and junior coaching at the club, Ian has also worked with the Active Schools Coordinator, persuading them to apply for a grant to purchase a Golf Xtreme indoor coaching kit. This is used for coaching sessions as part of the High School PE curriculum, lessons in the Gairloch Community Hall, and for coaching at one of the more remote local primary schools which usually feels excluded from the sport due to its distance from the course.
During 2013, Ian helped the Gairloch committee develop a five-year business plan with the support of Scottish Golf Development Officer, John Kemp. Specific targets under Ian’s mandate were to increase junior membership by 10%, year on year; maintain a ratio of 1:6 coaches to juniors; hold junior competitive events; and introduce a junior committee and appoint a junior captain.
For adult coaching, the targets were to enrol into the Get into Golf Program and recruit 25 new adult members each year. However, 2015 was not just about the number of coaches and participants, but also about improving the quality of the coaching.
Ian successfully applied for grants under both the ClubGolf and Get into Golf Roving Pro schemes to bring Sean Fay from Royal Dornoch on a monthly basis. Sean helped Ian design the coaching program and helped “coach the coaches”. Ian also persuaded Allan Martin, ClubGolf Coach Developer to hold specific coach support sessions in Gairloch.
In 2015, Ian was responsible for the appointment of the club’s first Junior Captain, Emily Morrison, and with the help of another volunteer coach, he organised Gairloch’s first competitive golf matches against Strathpeffer Golf Club, both home and away. Ian also ran the first “Adult and Junior” pairs competition which attracted 11 pairs, including a number of non-golfing parents. Ian is hoping to expand the competitive programme in 2016 and encourage some of those parents to take up the game.
Gairloch have achieved all their targets well within five years, and Ian’s participation in the overall business planning process, commitment and motivation has led to other areas of the club meeting and exceeding their planned expectations.
Speaking about his nomination, Ian said:
“It is just fantastic and I feel very privileged to have been nominated as I don’t do it for the recognition. It’s all about the club, the team of people involved, especially the junior coaching and making sure we have the best opportunities for the youngsters.
“We are also starting to see benefits from our Get into Golf programme for beginner adults, with people joining the club and continuing with coaching so we can help and support them until they are confident on the course.”
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