Prestonfield junior section making great strides

The future of golf is in safe hands at Prestonfield, which has enjoyed a landmark year by welcoming a record number of juniors into the club.

Prestonfield

Over the course of the 2013 season, 124 youngsters took part in ClubGolf coaching, with 11 volunteer coaches and helpers rolling out a fun and enjoyable programme.

The coaching message was spread throughout schools by local Active Schools Co-ordinator Jonathan Wallace and contacting all existing members with young relatives interested in trying their hand at golf.

The result was unprecedented interest from the area's youngsters, which meant all hands on board from the Prestonfield team to host additional coaching sessions on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays over two ten-week blocks, as well as staging ClubGolf's Summer Camp.

And it didn't take long before the efforts of ClubGolf Co-ordinator Liz Taylor and her team were rewarded as membership applications began rolling in. By the time coaching concluded in October, 74 children had joined the club's junior section.

"I think the success of our programme was based on having lots of structure and keeping the parents informed about what we were looking to achieve," said Taylor.

"Offering a much reduced membership has been the biggest factor but we didn't wait until the end of the coaching block to tell people about this. We wanted the children to use our practice facilities during their coaching as one of the benefits of being a member of the club, and that really worked for us.

"We are not in this to make a profit. We are in it to get kids to have fun and tell their friends at school how much they are enjoying coaching. Word of mouth is the biggest marketing tool."

Parents were also encouraged to join their budding young golfers, with strong backing from the club council and PGA professional, allowing juniors to sign mums and dads onto the golf course at a reduced rate. The aim of this being families would be encouraged to engage more with the club and that children would benefit from additional practice.

And practicing at Prestonfield is soon to be better than ever before for ClubGolfers, as a recently-rewarded sportscotland Awards for All grant will be put to use in the creation of valuable new facilities.

"I'm absolutely chuffed to bits with the grant," added Taylor. "We're going to get two practice par-3s, which will be fantastic. We'll use them during the kids' practice, so they can work on their long game, short game, putting and bunker play.

"We'll also have competitions and it will be a great place for the kids to become familiar with playing full golf holes. The members will also be able to use it, so they'll benefit too."

Looking ahead, Prestonfield are set to build on the success of 2013 with the introduction of a new structure, which will allow a seamless transition for kids to move into more advanced coaching groups. Taylor has also secured the services of the club's assistant pro to provide more technical tuition for youngsters developing at a faster rate.

ClubGolf Regional Manager for the East of Scotland, Lesley Nicholson, is delighted with the progress being made at Prestonfield and believes other clubs could benefit from the coaching model they have introduced.

 "ClubGolf at Prestonfield has grown from strength to strength in 2013. This is mostly due to the club targeting the right people and having complete buy-in from the main committee as well as club members," said Nicholson, who represented Great Britain & Ireland in the 2000 Curtis Cup at Ganton.

"ClubGolf Coordinator Liz Taylor has been a real driving force behind the administration in 2013 and has ensured their key priority of increasing the number of volunteer coaches in the programme was achieved to allow them to cater for larger numbers going forward.

 "It has been great to hear there is a real buzz about the golf club. With the ongoing support from all the volunteer coaches, as well as the committee and PGA professionals, Prestonfield Golf Club looks to have a very rosy future ahead."

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