Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Help for young players to make grade as professionals

Scottish amateur golf gets

£2million boost

An investment package worth over £2 million to golfers at every level of the sport, from young children to Scotland's best prospects was announced today.
The package includes:
£1 million of new investment from sportscotland over the next five years to provide support for Scotland's most talented players as they bid to make the transition to tour professional
£1,073,720 from sportscotland to the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association (SLGA) to support coaching, the Academy programme and the strategic development of the sport
Of the £1,073,720 listed above, £500,000 is targeted investment in the successful clubgolf programme, with a new strategy also launched today.
Announcing the funding, First Minister Alex Salmond said: "As Scotland gears up to stage five Women's British Open championships over the next decade and host the Ryder Cup in 2014, this investment puts us in a great position to attract more professional players to the game.
"It will also build on the success of clubgolf, our national junior programme, which has introduced golf to record numbers of children in Scotland - almost 40,000 primary five pupils last year. We aim to give every child in Scotland access to our national game. This excellent package of support at every level puts us well on the way to re-establishing Scotland as the world's greatest golfing nation."
To manage the new investment targeting the transition of amateurs to tour professionals, an independent company will be established. The board will be chaired by former R&A captain Graeme Simmers OBE, who is also a former Chair of sportscotland, and supported by a board of advisors including former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallagher.

The longer term aim will be to supplement sportscotland's contribution through private sector investment and ensure that players get tailored support in their early professional development.
Both male and female players will benefit from a range of valuable services including coaching and training, sports science, the opportunity to attend warm weather training camps in the off season and in some cases, meet the underwriting of playing costs.
Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland said: "Today's announcement marks an important step forward for the future of golf in Scotland, filling in the last piece of the puzzle to allow Scotland's golfing talent to flourish. SGU and SLGA deliver consistently both on and off the course and that's why sportscotland has increased investment in a sport which is part of the very fabric of our nation.
"sportscotland is also exceptionally proud of the success of the clubgolf programme, delivered in conjunction with our golf and local authority partners. I am delighted to see that the new strategy aims to keep that momentum going with ambitious targets and a robust plan to join up the people, places and thinking required to deliver on our Ryder Cup legacy commitment and give Scotland's youngsters every opportunity to experience this fascinating sport for themselves."
Sharing the spotlight today were three young golfers from North Berwick who are the product of the hugely successful clubgolf programme. Clara Young (13), Euan Bowden (14) and Calum Hill (14) demonstrate a real aptitude for the game and have now been selected for Scottish Golf's Academy programme. clubgolf, which was established in 2003 to deliver a lasting legacy from the 2014 Ryder Cup, today announced its new strategy for 2010 - 2014 containing ambitious targets to grow participation, expand the number of centres delivering clubgolf and further develop an effective coaching network which will deliver the right coach to the right place at the right time.
Cumulatively over 140,000 children have now been introduced to golf at school through introductory game, firstclubgolf. In 2010 all 32 Scottish Local Authorities will offer firstclubgolf and 41,000 children in P5 are set to benefit. By the time the Ryder Cup comes to Scotland in 2014, every nine year old child in Scotland will have been given the opportunity to try the game. The existing substantial network of qualified volunteer coaches will have grown to 1650 and 150 PGA Pros will be working in a variety of roles with clubgolf. As a result of school/club links there will be 15,000 children in coaching programmes at clubgolf centres, with the aim of retaining them in club membership and enjoying golf as a sport for life.
Scotland's top female golfer Catriona Matthew MBE said: "clubgolf is doing a great deal to encourage more children to take up the game and develop their skills. Getting golf into so many primary schools is generating a huge amount of interest and clubgolf's Girls Only coaching is definitely helping to keep more girls involved.
"It is very encouraging to see that children are now starting to come right through the clubgolf programme and into the national academies. I am delighted to support this new strategy and I am sure it will be a huge success."
Reflecting on the exciting times that lie ahead, Douglas Connon, Chairman of the Scottish Golf Union, said: "We are delighted that sportscotland is investing so much into golf, including the new funding to support young Tour professionals, which is really the missing piece in the jigsaw of our player development pathway."
"The support will be hugely important in giving players every opportunity of achievement on the world and European stage in the professional ranks as we have done at amateur level in recent years. No programme can guarantee this success but the players will certainly be better positioned to achieve their ambitions as a consequence of the investment."
Shona Malcolm, Chair of the SLGA, said: "There is fantastic talent in Scottish golf right now and the funding sportscotland has put in place has contributed greatly to players' progress at every level. We've had two players - Carly Booth and Kylie Walker - who have graduated to the Ladies European Tour this season and will be excellent role models for the girls coming through our development programmes."
Golf has always had an important part to play in Scottish life, providing thousands with a healthy leisure pursuit, delivering memorable sporting success for the nation and making a huge contribution to the Scottish economy. The strategy and investment packages announced today are designed to ensure that golf continues to deliver for Scotland to 2014 and beyond.

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