TURNHOUSE Golf Club has become the first golf club in Edinburgh to open its greens and fairways to the community's children as part of the national junior golf strategy, clubgolf.
The club has junior development high on its priority list and it is taking clubgolf, born out of the Scottish Executive's commitment to introduce every nine-year-old child in Scotland to the game by 2009, very seriously.
"Turnhouse Golf Club is fully aware of the importance of introducing youngsters to the game and we are delighted to be given this opportunity through the clubgolf initiative," said Iain Holt, Turnhouse GC's Junior Convenor. We have 12 fully-trained Level 1 coaches taking 36 children (26 from Gylemuir, five from East Craigs and five from our waiting list) through a structured 15-week clubgolf programme.
"This initiative allows us to be part of the local community and now that the programme has started it is all about making sure the children enjoy themselves and learn the game in a safe environment."
Recently, 36 Primary 5-aged children from Gylemuir and East Craigs Primary schools were the first-ever clubgolf recruits to set foot on the immaculate Turnhouse greens. Lesson one covered putting and a variety of games and activities designed to help develop their coordination.
Many of these children had their first taste of the game from former Open winner, Paul Lawrie at the introductory game, firstclubgolf's launch at Gylemuir Primary earlier the year.
Since then they have completed the firstclub golfcourse which uses multi-coloured modified clubs, rubberised balls and Velcro targets and is taught by teachers and Active Schools Coordinators within school time.
Forty percent of the children who experienced firstclubgolf at Gylemuir chose to sign up for Stage 1 of the programme at Turnhouse.
"Clubgolf is a fantastic opportunity for our P5 children to be involved in," said Elizabeth Gordon, Head Teacher at Gylemuir. "They are having a great deal of fun playing the game, meeting a whole new set of people, learning about etiquette and developing skills which will be part of a life long learning experience.
"In opening up their club to our children, Turnhouse Golf Club should be congratulated for their interest and tremendous support."
While Turnhouse is the first golf club in the Capital to open its doors to clubgolf, The Hermitage Golf Course and Education Centre delivered Stage 1 of the initiative last summer.
In a further boost for the strategy, Gullane and Gullane Ladies Golf Clubs have joined the growing band of almost 90 clubs across the country backing clubgolf.
For the P5 aged children at Gullane Primary their golf education began earlier this term when firstclubgolf was added to the curriculum.
The six-week course, now part of the school's curriculum, was delivered by class teachers with support of the Active Schools Co-ordinators and the East Lothian Junior Golf Co-ordinator, Kate Green. The course culminated recently with a round of Gullane's Children's Course followed by a visit to the village's golf museum.
"Clubgolf is ideal for our school, particularly with all the facilities in the area," said Gullane Primary's Deputy Head, Mark Melville. "We have in-house golf competitions for P6 and P7 but this will give the P5's the chance to get their first lessons in golf. They very much enjoyed the six in-house lessons and I'm delighted that half the group have decided to move on to the Level 1 course.
"Clubgolf will be ongoing from now on and each new P5 group that comes through will get the same six lessons in school.
"We will also be looking to recruit more volunteer coaches from the group's parents so the club builds up a bank of trained volunteers."
Over 350 Primary 5 children from Prestonpans, St Gabriels, Cockenzie, Longniddry, Aberlady, Gullane, Law, Dirleton and Athelstaneford primaries begun firstclubgolf this term.
Golf club members, club professionals, part-time teachers, janitors and parents have all volunteered their time to teach children in school. Gullane, Royal Musselburgh, The Glen, North Berwick and Craigielaw Golf Clubs are all committed to organising the strategy's Level 1 course.
"We are very fortunate to be able to work with Gullane Golf Club so that the children can experience firstclubgolf in a real golfing environment," said Kate Green.
"Alasdair Good, Gullane's PGA Professional, gave up some of his time to come along and give the children both technical and etiquette tips, resulting in an all round experience on the day.
"East Lothian Council fully supports clubgolf and is the key facilitator in establishing links between local school and local golf clubs. clubgolf is being implemented in line with the Active East Lothian Strategy which outlines the council's commitment to encourage and provide opportunities for individuals and communities throughout the area to participate in healthy physical activity and, in doing so, promoting a healthier lifestyle."