A new coaching programme for beginner golfers has resulted in clubs reporting a sharp increase in juniors.
Golf Access, set-up by directors Kris Robertson and Simon Wood, was launched to help beginners learn the game on the golf course without being constrained to the driving range or practice ground.
It involves tee markers being set-up halfway down fairways, with recommended par-3 yardages being less than 150 yards, par-4s being between 150 and 200 yards and par-5s being between 200 and 250 yards.
It also offers a colour band system, similar to that in martial arts, to incentivise progression. Juniors start with a maroon band and move through nine different colours up to platinum, receiving a certificate for each band they pass through. A platinum band qualifies each golfer as a 54-handicapper and eligible to play off the yellow tees at their club.
Fantastic couple of days up in Somerset and Gloucestershire with new and existing customers!— Golf Access (@GolfAccessprogm) October 25, 2018
Impressed with the beginner structure at @CirencesterGolf and was good to catch up with PGA Pro @pgajimmer and how @GolfAccessUK has lead to more beginners progressing onto membership! pic.twitter.com/CyY0ttvFXO
Adult participants, meanwhile, are presented with a coloured poker chip ball marker for every level they attain.
“Simon has been a PGA pro for years and saw a lot of great coaching programmes but a lot of them weren’t really course-based and, importantly, weren’t translating into memberships,” explains Robertson.
“He believed that was because beginners weren’t getting enough time on the course, making it difficult and intimidating when they did.”
To break down that ‘intimidation’ factor, the rules of Golf Access say that after ten shots on a hole, players pick up their ball and jot down a ten on their scorecard, while after a player has taken three shots from a bunker, they pick it up and put it down beside it.
Great to see the Golf Access programme in play at Orchardleigh Golf Club tonight!— Golf Access (@GolfAccessprogm) October 24, 2018
Brilliant feedback from the juniors, parents and officials at the club and there are now 15 juniors regular playing on the course every week! pic.twitter.com/JYAXd8kfZv
That, Robertson says, keeps the action fun and makes play continue at a good pace and, with more than 75 clubs and schools involved in the space of a year, the aim is now to expand nationwide after its proven success.
“We’ve received feedback and clubs are saying they’ve gone from barely having a junior section to 50 kids in just in a year,” he added.
“Clubs are getting more people turning up for sessions, more people are coming back, that’s resulting in memberships, which means more revenue. That, of course, is what clubs want.”
Clubs can purchase a launch pack from the Golf Access website – golfaccess.co.uk – which includes 15 adult ball markers and 15 junior wristbands, with additional accessories also available to buy.
Golf Access Bands
Maroon - Start of their journey in the game
Amber - Score of 14-15-over-par for 3 holes
Aqua - Score of 13-over-par for 3 holes
Navy - Score of 21-22-over-par for 6 holes
Violet - Score of 19-20-over-par for 6 holes
Scarlet - Score of 18-over-par or better for 6 holes
Charcoal - Score of 22-24-over-par for 9 holes
Emerald - Score of 19-21-over-par for 9 holes
Platinum - Score of 18-over-par or better for 9 holes