European Tour player Bradley Neil has welcomed a new initiative offering free golf for under-18s along with the introduction of family tickets in his native Perthshire, writes Martin Dempster.
Launched by Neil with the help of local schoolchildren at Crieff Golf Club, the Golf Perthshire campaign has been made possible through a £10,725 grant from the VisitScotland Growth Fund.
The iniative comes as Gleneagles, one of Perthshire’s golfing jewels, prepares to play host to both the inaugural European Golf Team Championships in August and the Solheim Cup next September.
“When I was growing up, my dad played golf and got my older brother into the game when he was three and I was the same age when I got into the sport,” said Blairgowrie man Neil. “Nowadays, there aren’t as many kids in the same boat, so it is definitely getting tougher to get kids into golf.
“This initative is great. It’s the type of thing that perhaps should have been in place before the 2014 Ryder Cup as it was huge, but better late than never. It’s great that it is place now with the European Team Championships coming up at Gleneagles in August then, of course, the Solheim Cup there as well in 2019.
“Hopefully this sort of initiative will build interest in both those events and once they have taken place this initiative will have been in place for a while and will be hopefully flourishing.”
The most recent Golf Visitor Survey showed that Perthshire performed slightly better than the rest of the country in attracting visiting female golfers with 20 per cent against the national average of 12 per cent.
“Our aim is for Perthshire to be known as one of the world’s most family friendly golf destinations, with great incentives to make the game more accessible and affordable to families holidaying in the area,” said Allan Minto, project manager at Golf Perthshire.
Neil, meanwhile, was delighted that he got home from China in time for the final round of the inaugural Barrie Douglas Scottish Juniors Masters at Blairgowrie last Sunday. “The feedback from all the parents I spoke to was that this was the best junior event in Scotland and it’s just the first year,” he said.
“It’s not just great for Perthshire but for Scottish golf and I think it’s going to be a GB&I or Europe event next year.”