Let me start by offering a huge thank you to the ETIQUS team and its founder Gary Butler, as ETIQUS has raised over £10,000 for the Golf Foundation during the course of the last year.
This is a fantastic donation, made up of £5 from every watch sale that is donated by ETIQUS to our charity, additional £5s, £10s and more, from individual golfers who have purchased an ETIQUS timepiece and from The ETIQUS Charity Challenge events where golfers have the chance to win an ETIQUS timepiece as a prize in return for a £5 donation.
Clearly, the people investing in an ETIQUS timepiece are proud to be recognised as ‘golfers’ and see that a donation to the Golf Foundation can help the next generation to play the game. Through the ETIQUS 'a fiver for the foundation' campaign they are ‘putting something back’ into the sport.
The Golf Foundation is a charity whose purpose is to make golf more accessible to young people and to help them ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the game. Working alongside our national partners, the Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme grows golf participation among young people and offers the ‘Skills for Life’ benefits for which the sport is known. The £10,000 will be spent wisely on our school, community and golf club projects to support children from all backgrounds to find golfing opportunities.
During the last year, HSBC Golf Roots created more than 3,500 new junior club members, a figure we want to grow further each year. However, it’s not just about numbers: this charity is seeking to inspire young people and their families to get the most out of their golf and learn lessons from the game as they develop as people. This is why the Golf Foundation values its partnership with ETIQUS. The brand is clearly formed on the principles of golfing etiquette, sportsmanship and respect; committed to helping preserve the spirit of the game for future players, an ethos the Golf Foundation also champions at every opportunity.
Every year the Foundation presents its ‘Spirit of Golf’ Award to a leading golfer who has exemplified good sportsmanship and through his/her play has been inspirational to young golfers. Justin Rose, Tom Watson, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Gary Player and Tony Jacklin are among recent recipients of this award. We all need these role models to look up to as we are learning the game, don’t we?
So how can the £10,000 help young players?
Our HSBC Golf Roots strategy is structured so that the more money we receive through fundraising, the greater number of young people we can help get into, and benefit from, the great sport of golf. So how do the figures add up?
Looking firstly at our player pathway from schools and the community to our golf clubs, £10,000 will help HSBC Golf Roots Centres (golf venues) introduce 4,000 young people to golf in schools and community groups, provide 800 with a taster session at golf clubs, transition 400 into coaching, 200 into regular play and 150 into membership. All achievable with our great base of switched-on PGA Professionals, club junior organisers and teachers in schools, and our national partners such as England Golf, Golf Development Wales, Scottish Golf and the Professional Golfers’ Association.
At present we reach 500,000 young people in the year, and as projects have more impact we have set ourselves an ambitious goal to help create 10,000 new junior members per year by 2018; each year gradually increasing new member numbers.
Significant resources are also in place to retain more young people in membership (for example, our PGA-endorsed Junior Golf Passport in which the club Pro and youngsters work together towards that first handicap using an exciting paper booklet and online resource).
The second strand of our strategy relates to finding and encouraging golfers in non-traditional golf environments. Here, £10,000 will help introduce 600 teenagers to golf through ‘StreetGolf’ activity in the community, offering each young person that important player pathway to potential regular play at golf facilities if they want to pursue their golf.
But it's never just about numbers
We believe the numbers side of this story is exciting, but our interest in making the sport more accessible to all young people is exemplified by a unique initiative called ‘HSBC Golf Roots Plus’. ‘Plus’ projects have a crucial Skills for Life focus concerned with enhancing young people’s lives through the catalyst of golf.
Since its inception in early 2012, ‘Plus’ funding has been awarded to 43 projects in England and Wales to reach a diverse cross-section of youngsters, all with different needs, including those with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or disabilities. Collaboration is a key feature, so while one organisation might take responsibility for leading the project, they often work with other local agencies (Police, community groups or golf facilities) to ensure the project benefits as many young people as possible.
The Golf Foundation isn’t charged with creating elite golfers and champions, that is a job for others, though we are proud that the likes of Lee Westwood and Justin Rose were winners of our former Age Group Championship, with Lee receiving Golf Foundation coaching in his early days and Justin winning a week’s coaching with our ex-President Bernard Gallacher, later telling us he learned some of the putting secrets that have put him in good stead ever since.
Every year the Golf Foundation team attends The Open Championship for the full week as guests of The R&A and it is inspiring to have a captive audience for eight days as hundreds of families and many school groups enjoy a try at golf with our team in the ‘R&A Swingzone’.
The excitement and enthusiasm on the faces of all the young people we encounter at this event and others suggests that we are making a genuine difference as a charity, whether one of these boys and girls becomes an Open or Masters Champion, or they simply enjoy a new sport for life, learn valuable life lessons along the way, make some great friends, and play the game always in the right spirit.
As a charity, we are fortunate to have support from core funders (see more at www.golf-foundation.org), but we also rely heavily on donations from individual golfers and also forward-thinking and generous private companies like ETIQUS, so I’d like to thank the team and their customers again for their generosity, it is much appreciated.
These funds will be invested well so that we can make a difference and help the next generation of players. We, and our friends at ETIQUS, know this is important.
CEO - The Golf Foundation