Youngsters receive tuition from some of the country's top PGA pros to bridge gap in learning
More than 500 young golfers are currently benefitting from advanced tuition from some of the country’s top PGA professionals as Scottish Golf Development Centre coaching continues for 2013.
Open to kids between the ages of 11-17 with a handicap, the 40-hour programme is underway at 32 Scottish clubs this autumn after its successful introduction in 2012.
Designed to bridge the gap between ClubGolf coaching and the Scottish Golf Academy, Development Centres it focuses on all aspects of the swing, as well as ‘off-course’ areas, such as mental preparation and fitness and conditioning.
Throughout the ten-week block, each player’s progress is monitored and measured by their Development Coach using the same skills assessments applied to Scottish Golf Academy and National Squad players.
As such, the Development Centres will continue to be a valuable tool in identifying the most promising players for promotion to the next stages of the Scottish Golf player pathway.
Steve Paulding, Scottish Golf Performance Manager, has been pivotal in establishing this coaching network from which Scotland’s budding talent will emerge and ultimately represent their country in some of the amateur game’s most prestigious events.
He said: “We want to ensure that every child and young person has the opportunity to experience golf and hopefully enthuse many of them to take up golf more seriously as their sport of choice.
“We have two aims for Development Centres: firstly we want players to progress to a level where they want to play and compete regularly and become lifelong club members; and secondly to raise the number of players pushing for places in our national squads and teams.
“We hope to ensure that every aspiring golfer can maximise their potential by accessing a quality assured national programme.”
With more than half of all new child members joining a club via ClubGolf, Scotland’s national junior golf programme is succeeding in its mission of introducing more children to the game than ever before. However, for older children that have yet to make the grade at Academy level, there has previously been little structured coaching support available.
Development Centres, Paulding believes, will address this issue by giving youngsters the opportunity for continued development, thus maintaining their interest in the game and improving their chances of reaching their fullest potential.
“There has never been a fully implemented national coaching programme that provides an opportunity for those players who wish to be performance golfers but are not selected to the Scottish Golf Academy,” he added.
“We have always felt this weakness in the middle part of the Scottish Golf player pathway needed to be addressed. We have now created the opportunity for many hundreds of young golfers to pursue their dreams of playing for their country as an amateur or having a career as a professional golfer.
“And although many never will, we hope we have created the ability and love of golf to play it for life.”
Former Scottish Ryder Cup star Andrew Coltart, who is now a member of the Scottish Golf Union’s Performance Committee, is also encouraged that the steps being taken through the Development Centre Programme will mould more promising golfers into successful pros.
"I am backing the Development Centres because I believe they provide an excellent platform to enhance youngsters’ golfing abilities," said Coltart, now a commentator for Sky Sports.
"From this, I am expecting to see youngsters better equipped in all of the attributes required to become a successful golfer. I have no doubt it will help Scotland produce more golfing stars.”
Early evidence following the first year of the Development Centre coaching supports this assertion.
Almost 300 youngsters took part in Phase 1 of the programme which, for many, led to some remarkable improvements. This was no more evident than in the case of Kieran Wyness, who reduced his handicap from 18.2 to 11 after being involved in coaching at Gullane.
Similar success was experienced by Glenbervie’s Jennifer Allan, who halved her handicap from 12 to 6 over the course of the 2013 season, crediting her Development Coach David Patrick from Kingsfield.
Phase two got underway earlier this year as ClubGolf looked to add another 15 golf clubs and facilities as leading venues for the coaching of young golfers.
Approximately 50 development centres are set to be chosen by the completion of the third phase in 2014 and Jackie Davidson, ClubGolf manager, said: “The aim is to allow Scotland’s young golfers to fulfil their full potential.”
To find out more about the Scottish Golf Development Centre Programme, visit clubgolfscotland.com/development-centres