A scheme to encourage more youngsters to take up golf is being launched in Penwortham.
While the game is thriving at the top level, with Great Britain boasting some of the world’s leading golfers, junior golf in this country is struggling to attract numbers.
In a bid to reverse that trend in the local area, Penwortham Golf Club professional Darren Hopwood is setting up three open days in a bid to get more children on to the fairways.
They are being held later this month, and in February, at the Whitestake Driving Range where Hopwood also coaches.
Hopwood told the Evening Post: “There was a big boom in junior golf from 1997 to 2007, mainly due to Tiger Woods being so high profile.
“But there’s been a bit of a lull since then when it comes to youngsters taking up golf.
“There are players from Great Britain at the top of the world rankings but apart from the major tournaments, golf doesn’t get a massive exposure in this country.
“I’ve got two sons myself and I know that children like to pass their time playing on the XBox or watching the X-Factor.
“Parents find it difficult time-wise to get their kids to golf courses because it is a sport which takes up quite a bit of time.
“But there is genuine interest out there and it’s just a case of giving youngsters more access to golf.
“We need to get kids and their parents down, have a chat with them and get them swinging a golf club.
“Golf is time consuming, it’s a big learning curve from being a beginner to getting round a golf course properly.
“We’re having these three open days at Whitestake Driving Range, which is a fantastic facility and is linked to Penwortham Golf Club where I’m the professional.
“If youngsters like the open days, they can then join our junior academy, which begins in March.
“That will be hosted at both Whitestake Driving Range and Penwortham Golf Club.
“Junior membership at Penwortham has been reduced to £49, making it much easier for many families to afford.
“In the autumn I’ll award at least one coaching scholarship to an academy pupil.
“That will see them receive £300-worth of individual coaching free of charge.
“The recipient will be chosen on their potential and performance during the spring and summer.”
The first open day takes place at Whitestake on Saturday, January 26, 10am-11.30am. That is followed by Saturday, February 2, 12pm-1.30pm, with the third on Sunday, February 17, 10am-11.30am.
Said Hopwood: “The open days will give children a chance to get to know a bit more about the game.
“They can get a golf club in their hands and hit some shots.
“Kids of any age are welcome to come down and see what it’s all about. It’s an exciting initiative and it will be great to see a lot of budding young golfers taking part.”