The establishment of Thornton Golf Club’s ClubGolf coaching programme and reinvigoration of the junior section is mainly down to the vision and efforts of one highly-motivated person, John Anderson.
When John first contacted his ClubGolf Regional Manager, Martin Ritchie, there were very few active juniors and no structure to encourage their development within the club. Fast forward to the present day and the club has a clear coaching pathway for the juniors, opportunities for the local children to experience golf and take up membership, with appropriate competitions and activities.
In the first year, through support from Martin and the local Active School Co-coordinator, John recruited four Thornton members to become Level One coaches. With their support, he promoted the new stage one coaching programme at the club by going in to the local primary school and supporting a local festival. This proved to be such a success that John soon realised that he needed more helping hands to meet the demands from the children of the community.
John then set about establishing a junior committee to help spread the work load being placed upon him from the popularity of the coaching from the juniors. This included monthly meetings to help ensure all aspects of the junior section were running smoothly.
With the increased popularity of ClubGolf at Thornton, John recruited other members and parents to support the small team of coaches; this included organising fund raising events at the club and writing grant applications to fund the training requirements of the new volunteers. John himself attended Level One advanced training to support the progress of the junior’s development in Stage Two of the programme. The club now has a large bank of coaches offering coaching based on the juniors’ ability.
John was nominated by fellow coach, Geoff Sampson, who said:
“John has recently stepped down from all coaching activity at the club and the biggest compliment I can bestow on him is that he has left myself and the other volunteers with such a strong structure a processes to following making our roles simple to execute.”
John has worked tirelessly to embrace all of the initiatives introduced by ClubGolf to help grow the junior section. The club have delivered a successful summer camp from the roll out in the first year despite not having a resident professional up until two years ago. Indeed the recruitment of a professional at the club was somewhat down to john's hard work to persuade the clubs committee that a professional would be the next logical progression in developing the ability of the club’s juniors.
In addition to the club’s summer programme, John set up winter coaching for the juniors at the nearby Cluny driving range. This quickly turned in to family coaching when the "Get into Golf" initiative was launched by Scottish Golf, which proved an instant hit with the parents and grandparents of the juniors.
John's passion and commitment has been inspirational. The club has a link with the local cluster of schools, an established stage one and two coaching programme, winter coaching, summer camp, a full calendar of competitions, and trips to events to inspire the juniors.
Speaking about his nomination, John said:
“I was surprised and delighted to be nominated as I retired from my ClubGolf role last October. I started and oversaw the programme but the achievement, which is significant, is down to the people who have taken it forward.
“We are doing something that is essential for the sport and for the club as well. Thornton historically had a strong junior section but it had dwindled. We’re a long way off being restored but I am very pleased with what has been achieved as it has been a hugely enjoyable activity for everyone involved.
“I think in our case we were blessed by having Keith Renton in the programme as he has donated so much time to it. And having the numbers increase means we’ve had funds to employ a Pro. It is going to go forward as long as the current team and their successors all keep going.
“For me, the best part is camaraderie of the coaches and working with young people, seeing them enjoying themselves and improve.”
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