FALLING junior memberships at many Scottish golf clubs could about to be halted thanks to a discount initiative aimed at the next generation of players.
All children involved in Scotland’s national junior programme, ClubGolf, are being offered a £20 discount when they apply for their first junior golf club membership.
Since ClubGolf was launched at Gleneagles a decade ago as part of Scotland’s successful bid to stage the 2014 Ryder Cup, one of the main criticisms aimed at the initiative was that it didn’t join up with club memberships.
Now, however, as part of the scheme’s wider goal to increase the number of young people going on to become fully-fledged golf club members, a money- saving voucher is being made available to ClubGolf juniors.
Made possible by funding from the Scottish Government, it is open until 30 April 2013 and, in some circumstances, could help families save up to a third off of their child’s yearly membership subscription.
The average cost of an annual junior golf club membership in Scotland stands at £67, yet there are clubs around the country that are losing youngsters at an alarming rate.
At one in Fife, for instance, more than 50 junior members have given up their membership this year alone and that’s despite the fact it has a pro-active junior convenor and a ClubGolf programme in place.
“I’m delighted that we have been able to bring such an incredible offer to children taking part in ClubGolf coaching in schools and clubs and owe a great deal of thanks to the Scottish Government for their funding,” said ClubGolf manager Jackie Davidson.
“As well as introducing as many young people as possible to golf ahead of the Ryder Cup in 2014, it’s our mission to increase the number of junior club members in Scotland over the next five years.
“Hopefully, over the coming months, we’ll see that our £20 discount has allowed more youngsters than ever to become a member of a club for the first time this year.”
First Minister Alex Salmond, a devoted ClubGolf supporter, described the offer as “superb” and is encouraging youngsters to take advantage of it to gain their first junior golf club membership.
“As the home of golf, we have a duty to offer access to this great game at club level to as many youngsters as we possibly can,” he said.
“Hopefully, with the help of the fantastic team at ClubGolf and offers such as these, more young people than ever before will decide to become club members for the first time in 2013.”
Meanwhile, the shortlists of candidates nominated for the 2013 RBS Junior Club of the Year and Volunteer of the Year have been announced.
They feature the clubs and individuals from across Scotland that have demonstrated excellence in promoting golf for young people in the past 12 months.
Winners in each category will be announced next month at the 2013 Scottish Golf Awards in Glasgow on the same night Sandy Lyle is set to receive a lifetime achievement award.
Vying for the Junior Club of the Year title and an increased prize fund of £3,000 for return investment into junior golf are Durness (Highlands and Islands) Falkirk, Strathendrick (both Central) and The Whitecraigs (West).
Last year, South Queensferry club Dundas Parks topped the vote, which was cast by an independent panel of judges, and was awarded a prize of £1,000. A total of £600, meanwhile, is on offer for the individual named the RBS Volunteer of the Year, which is open to those who have selflessly contributed time and effort at their respective club and had wider input into Scottish club golf.
In the running for the honour this year are Elgin’s Louise Marshall (Grampian), Jean Leitch from Club of the Year contenders Strathendrick, Thornton member Keith Renton (Tayside and Fife) and Shirley Murray of Torvean (Highlands and Islands).
“Everyone at ClubGolf takes great delight in seeing all of the efforts of Scotland’s most engaged junior clubs and individuals recognised at such a high-profile event as the Scottish Golf Awards,” added Davidson.
“All of those shortlisted represent the terrific work that has being done at the grassroots of the game to attract as many young people as possible to pick up the game of golf.
“We owe a great deal of gratitude to all of these people and rewarding them with the RBS Junior Club and Volunteer of the Year awards are just a small token of this thanks.”