Combatting a decline in Junior golf participation

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Combatting a decline in junior participation (Photo: Ronan Lang)

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With ageing golf club membership and an overall decline in participation over the past number of years, junior golfers have never been more critical for the future of our sport.

While there are a number of successful junior programmes across the country, there is a concern that, in a recent survey, 44% of Irish PGA Professionals outline a ‘lack of time’ as a barrier to delivering any more junior golf activities in their clubs.

In an effort to combat this challenge, the concept of creating an additional support mechanism for PGA Professionals was designed by the PGA and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland. This summer, CGI alongside the PGA will launch a first of its kind, an Activators Programme. This programme, which has been approved by the R&A will allow amateur golfers to be paid to support a PGA Professional to deliver grassroots activities.

The aim of this pilot is to support 20 PGA Professionals and golf clubs who are seeking to increase the opportunities for junior golfers through the Boys Framework and Golf4Girls4Life programmes. Activators will receive training in the areas of safeguarding, non-technical training, fundamental movement skills, inclusion, and games based coaching.

“Young people are critical to the sustainability of our great game and so we are excited about the potential benefitthis new dimensionto junior coaching might bring,” explained Jonathan Wright – PGA GolfDevelopmentExecutive.

“We believe introducing Activators could have multiple benefits including the potential to increase the volume of activity offered and allowing PGA Professionals more time to spend on technical instruction while also presenting positive role models to the juniors,” added Anne McCormack, CGI Club Support and Participation Manager.

The CGI and PGA are eager to understand the impact this programme will have during its pilot year this summer and comparisons will be made in terms of participating numbers, revenue opportunities and the volume of activity being delivered before deciding to implement the programme on a larger scale.

The announcement of the Activators Programme comes shortly after the GUI finalised their Junior Golf Policy earlier this year. Alongside the longstanding ILGU Policy, clubs involved in any CGI Development programme are expected to adhere to requirements outlined within these policies.

To find out more on the Junior Frameworks and Policies, please visit: contact your local CGI Participation Officer


Who is involved in the framework?

Both the boys and girls frameworks are aimed at beginner golfers taking them through to obtaining a handicap:

Girls = 35 Handicap / Boys = 27 Handicap

Who selects the activator?

Once PGA Professionals/Golf Clubs have signed up to the pilot, they will suggest at least one and up to four people (primarily targeting 18-25 year olds students) who they would like to be trained as activators.

Role of the Activator

A large part of the initial framework stages (one to three) and camps, is based on using models such as Guided Discovery and Teaching Games for Understanding. This means the amount of technical instruction required by Activators is significantly reduced. With the support of the R&A, CGI see there is an opportunity for a trained activator/leader to support the delivery of the framework/camp, in support of a PGA Professional.

With the training provided, there would be no formof technical instruction carried out by the Activator. The main role of the Activator is to support the PGA Professional in the delivery of activities for grassroots juniors through the Boys and Girls Frameworks and Summer Camps.

Typical duties will include:

  • Setting up activities
  • Registering juniors
  • Delivering non-technical activities as part of a programme plan set out by the PGA Professional
  • Packing up after sessions
  • Social media posts/follow on communication

Duties will depend on the requirements of the lead PGA Professional and therefore it is anticipated that they will vary from Activator to Activator.

What is covered at the Activators training?

No one can become an Activator without attending a training session and being part of an approved golf club (with sign off from the PGA Professional). The training will cover:

  • Safeguarding Basic Awareness Level One Course
  • Practical non-technical training
  • Fundamental movement skills
  • Inclusion awareness
  • Teaching games for understanding
  • Role of activator vs PGA Professional

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