Pitlochry plan is paying off as Open Day seeks to attract more juniors

Pitlochry Golf Club's youth programme has grown impressively every year since the club's hard working Pro Mark Pirie started a junior revolution in 2007.

Having broken new ground in both volume and performance of young players, Pirie, PGA Pro at the club for a decade, is planning to recruit more youngsters through an open day next month.
 
This will be a continuation of the work Pirie started when he teamed up with teachers and Active Schools Co-ordinators schools five years ago to deliver ClubGolf to hundreds of children in eight local schools.
 
"On the back of that relationship I have with the local schools, from right across the area, we have picked up a lot of junior members," he said.
 
"ClubGolf has given us excellent backing through advertising, marketing and equipment and without that we wouldn't be anywhere near as far as we are now."
 
Pirie's schools coaching was the first level of a programme which gives children a taste for golf, then welcomes them to the club and guides them through a structured programme.
 
"The schools coaching is all about introducing children from a large area to golf and spreading the word about the coaching we offer at the club," said Mark, who as a result has built his club's junior numbers to 45 younger children and well over a dozen who hold an official CONGU handicap.
 
"The sort of mentality I'm looking for are the children that come to the club for an hour's coaching and  will then go out and practice by themselves.  The onus is very much on them and the majority of the youngsters that are joining now are those that are keen to learn and have the motivation to keep coming back."
 
Amongst those that have been on the programme longest is a core of players who are reaching a high level of ability.  With full council backing, the club is looking to create a support package of discretionary grants to enable these juniors to play in open events.
 
Eight qualified ClubGolf volunteer coaches help deliver the coaching under Pirie's guidance.  Until now he was the only PGA Pro working in Highland Perthshire, but Pirie will bolster his coaching team this month with the arrival of Graeme Leggat, originally from Blairgowrie and qualified PGA Pro for almost 20 years.
 
The club is also planning to improve its facilities so that coaching can continue in all weathers.  They have applied for funding for a covered driving range, a nine hole par three course and to make junior friendly improvements to the course.
 
In an effort to bring in more juniors Pirie is planning an open day on Sunday 15 April for new and current juniors, with a range of coaching for every level and lots of competitions for those that turn up on the day.
 
"There are six courses in Highland Perthshire and we are the only one which has the scale of junior coaching is happening simply because of our facilities and our coaching structure." added Mark.
 
"We are a family orientated club so we do an awful lot for the juniors and the Open Day will be an opportunity for us to tell the story of what Pitlochry has to offer for the kids"

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