Nick Dougherty hails new Golf Foundation initiative as 'something big'
Unleash Your Drive, a Golf Foundation initiative, was launched by Dougherty, the national charity’s president, at Wentworth Club on the opening day of the BMW PGA Championship at the Surrey venue.
The culmination of five years of research and development that has been tested at both primary and secondary school level, the programme incorporates nine key mental toughness tools that have been proven to benefit the mental wellbeing of young people.
The testing discovered an average 17 per cent improvement in mental toughness in those taking part and now Dougherty is inviting every school in Great Britain and Ireland to offer the six-week programme as part of their curriculum.
“When I got involved with the Golf Foundation, my ambition was to actually do something that made a difference,” Dougherty, a former DP World Tour player who is now a Sky Sports presenter, told The Scotsman.
“When I became president, I said that if it was just going to be a name on a piece of paper I’m not that interested as I am so busy with everything going on in my life. But if we are all in and we are doing something big here, then I’m all in.”
Commenting on the new initiative, he added: “It is the opposite of everything we have been hearing in recent times. This is not about growing the game at all; it’s the other way around. It’s about the game actually making a difference in a positive way outside of what golf is all about.
“The bi product is that more people will be exposed to the game, which can only be a good thing. But I am more excited about the life impact of this than the golf one.
“Throughout the course of the six weeks, they will be learning life skills. It can be done with or without teachers, so no added costs. We hope there will be a push from the Government.
“Golf is a great sport. It’s got a great history as well as some parts of it that, unfortunately, have not necessarily reached everybody, but it is there now and that’s our ambition. We are really hoping from our push this week that golf club captains when they are picking their charities for next year pick the Golf Foundation and help us raise money for buying this equipment.
“If you are going to be behind something, something like this is as good a thing you could possibly do as it’s about giving our school kids, perhaps those where there are problems at home and the solitude some of them have, this is where golf can really play its part.”
The Golf Foundation is offering fully funded kit and resources to a selection of schools who are assessed as needing this special support. Meanwhile, any school across GB&I can purchase the programme immediately at a heavily- subsidised rate.
In order to help raise funds for the campaign, Dougherty has helped to create a special golfing incentive. Every golfer at whatever their level will have the chance to earn, win or play their way to the Unleash Your Drive Final at Wentworth Club next August, with the money raised helping more young people from all backgrounds to access the programme in their school.
The Unleash Your Drive Final itself will see 72 golfers play on the West Course at the Surrey venue, with Dougherty hosting the day. The three best performers at the final will then earn one of three spots in next year’s BMW PGA Championship.
“Across my career, I’ve always given back to try and make a difference but nothing gave me a platform like the Golf Foundation, which has been there for 70 years,” added Dougherty. “You’ve got The R&A, DP World Tour and all of the Home Unions. It is going to need everyone to pull together and I probably ruffled a few feathers when I said to them all ‘you are the most powerful people in the world of golf and I find it amazing that we haven’t managed to do more’. They hadn’t necessarily been pushed in the past to pull the same way at the same time. I was able to say that because I’m not attached to any of those organisations and we needed everyone to say ‘yes’.
“As much as it does scare me a little bit because I sometimes think ‘oh god Nick, what are you attempting to do here?’ it is so exciting and everything I’ve seen from the start has encouraged me to believe this will work as everyone who needs to be there is there and on board.”
Full details about the initiative can be found at www.golf-foundation.org/uyd
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