The England Golf Partnership (EGP) is backing Community Golf to offer more opportunities for disadvantaged and disabled people to play the game in Surrey and parts of Sussex, Kent and London.
Community Golf was founded three years ago by PGA professional Richard Shaw who, with his team, believe that golf is a game that everyone should have the opportunity to play and be involved in.
They offer programmes to inspire and engage people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds and have developed links with schools for children with special needs and with community organisations reaching out to the lonely and socially isolated.
Community Golf runs outreach and club based programmes and has partnered with four golf clubs so far, to offer follow-on sessions, events and holiday camps: Epsom GC; Selsdon Park GC, near Croydon; Milford GC, near Guildford; and The Oaks GC, near Sutton. Currently 320 people are involved in weekly golf, with many more being given a taste of the game, and it wants to involve more clubs and volunteers to increase the work that they can do.
The new partnership will give support to Community Golf from England Golf and Golf Foundation officers and links with County Sports Partnerships. Richard Shaw (pictured) commented: “I am really excited about this. We all share the same ambition to grow the game and this will help us to reach new groups and new people who haven’t had access to golf before.”
Jamie Blair, England Golf’s Disability Manager, said: “The England Golf Partnership recognise the work of Community Golf in getting more disabled people active through the sport in their local setting.”
“By working more closely together we will create stronger links to more golf facilities so that disabled people get the opportunity, if they would like it, to move on to playing within these facilities. We want to combine the strengths of local deliverers who can activate the community and clubs who want to create stronger links within their locality.”
The Community Golf approach is creating many enthusiasts. Anne, 54, who joined a session at the Surrey Choices Woking Resource Centre, commented: “This is really addictive”. While Molly, a 14-year-old pupil at St Catherine’s Girls School, confessed: “I hate golf – but this was fun!”
Meanwhile, Bailey, a 12-year-old schoolboy, has made a real difference to older people in Crawley, West Sussex. He was challenged by his school to raise money for a charity and, with cake sales and sponsored activities, made £330 which he gave to Age UK Crawley.
The charity used the money to treat their members to play in the Community Golf Spring League and, said Richard Shaw: “They are now enjoying the health and social benefits that the sport has to offer and unbelievably the average age of the group is 83.6!”
The England Golf Partnership brings together the amateur governing body, England Golf, and the Professional Golfers’ Association to grow the game with the support of the Golf Foundation and Sport England National Lottery funding. The Partnership’s Whole Sport Plan for golf aims to increase and widen participation in golf, from grass roots to elite level.