Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Young Ayrshire golfers enjoy lessons from Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry
YOUNG golfers in South Ayrshire recently enjoyed a masterclass with golf legend Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry.
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The 18 time major winner was in the area promoting unsung heroes in the game for the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Daily Record newspaper.
The global golfing icon had expressed fears that too few young golfers were coming forward to play golf, particularly in the USA, so when he learned of South Ayrshire Council’s successful running of the national clubgolf programme for primary school children, he offered to host a coaching clinic.
He told the Daily Record: “All the kids here like golf and they hit the ball nicely. I enjoy working with them, even though I don’t do a lot of it now.”
The clubgolf programme is the legacy of the then Scottish Executive’s bid to host the 2009 Ryder Cup – subsequently awarded to Scotland for 2014.
The national initiative offers every nine year-old the chance to experience golf during school time, and in South Ayrshire this year over 1,000 primary five pupils will be introduced to the game.
A small group of children in Carrick were chosen in 2006 to launch the initiative locally and it proved extremely successful.
The results of the programme were on display to the golfing legend as boys and girls took part in an entertaining and highly successful clinic. The Golden Bear admitted that he had ‘nothing to teach’ a number of youngsters whose abilities were admired by a large group of onlookers.
South Ayrshire Council leader Councillor Hugh Hunter (pictured above with Jack Nicklaus) attended the clinic to watch the youngsters and said: “To be given the opportunity to attend a clinic at Turnberry is an extraordinary opportunity, and to receive it from the legendary Jack Nicklaus really is the icing on the cake.
“The boys and girls were excellent ambassadors for their schools, and I was immensely proud of them. To get up and hit a ball in front of a crowd at Turnberry would be daunting, but to do it with so much panache in the presence of the greatest ever golfer is nothing short of awesome.”
clubgolf owes its success to the enthusiasm shown by firstly the staff within schools and volunteers from across the whole of South Ayrshire.
Staff and volunteers at Maybole Golf Club worked with the original group, which resulted in a very healthy number of children progressing to a golf club setting annually and this, in turn, encouraged other pupils who wanted to take part.
Several of the Maybole girls have progressed so well that they are now able to participate in Ayrshire Girls competitions, while several of the boys will have a formally recognised handicap this year.
The clubgolf programme has also benefited from the support of Prestwick Golf Club, who, despite not having a junior membership category, have allowed the practice ground to be used by juniors participating in the clubgolf initiative.
Again, this development has been very successful, with 14 of the original 16 children receiving tuition in 2008 from a Prestwick professional, returning again in 2009.
With summer nearly here and with The Open Championship a matter of weeks away, young golfers are being encouraged to join the new South Ayrshire Junior Golf Club – set up specifically for young golfers.
For more information on this club and for an application form, visit the website at:
All in all, the future of golf in South Ayrshire looks to be in good hands, and who knows - with the Open Championship being hosted at Turnberry this year, one day we may even have our own home-grown champion lifting the coveted claret jug!
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