Get into Golf – it’s fun!
That’s the message from a group of Huddersfield golf professionals ready to provide free tuition for schools, colleges and community groups.
Funding has been provided by Major Golf Direct of Leeds Road and free sessions are being staged at Longley Park Golf Club near the town centre.
Professionals John Andrew, Simon Corp and John Ambler from Major Golf Direct are providing the lessons for youngsters, along with Senior Tour professional Paul Carman, the former Huddersfield Golf Club pro.
Every school in Kirklees has been offered free golf coaching, but it’s open to colleges and any other community groups who would like to give golf a go.
“This is us giving our time back into the game to encourage youngsters into golf in the Kirklees area,” explained Andrew, a Fellow of the PGA.
“We will teach them for nothing, we will provide the equipment, the golf balls, everything – so it’s a great opportunity for people to try what is a fantastic sport and a great activity.
“Longley Park is absolutely the ideal venue for people to give it a try and start playing, it’s a nine-hole course in beautiful condition with a lovely clubhouse and it’s closely located to the centre of Huddersfield.
“Ideally, in the next 12 months and particularly through this summer, we would love to deliver golf to around 3,000 children and youngsters.
“If only a small percentage of those youngsters eventually take up the game, then it’s more of them getting away from computer screens and experiencing the benefits of a fantastic sport, pastime and activity.
“Golf is not only great fun, but it’s healthy in the fresh air, skilful, it brings you life skills, social skills, co-ordination and standards, because there is an etiquette to golf which everyone respects.
“To be in such an environment is absolutely wonderful for youngsters, so that’s why we are saying Get Into Golf – it’s fun.”
It’s a personal mission for Andrew, whose first love was cricket, but he got the bug for golf when offered the chance to hit a few balls as an 11-year-old.
Five years later he was a professional at 16 and he became Longley Park’s professional in 1989, before moving on to Crosland Heath.
In 1993, he started the Direct Golf business which really took off as golf boomed in the ‘Tiger Woods years’.
Since then, golf has declined around 25% and the average age of golf club members has gone up from 45 to nearer 65.
Andrew, 49, is keen to tackle that statistic by getting more young people trying out the sport – and he’s hoping Longley Park will benefit as well.
The club no longer employs a pro, but Major Golf Direct have fitted out the shop and will staff it on major competition or visitor days.
With May being National Golf Month, the timing could not be better.
“Back in the day you used to turn up at clubs and see youngsters practising, putting and teeing off – but those numbers have dropped off because there are so many counter attractions for kids these days,” added Andrew.
“Simon, Paul, John and myself are keen to give our time to try and introduce youngsters to the enjoyment of golf and what it can provide in your life.
“We are all professionals who have been given a livelihood by the game and lots of other opportunities in life and business because of it, and it would be great if we could get more people to experience those things because of our initiative.
“People say golf takes too long and people’s lifestyles don’t provide that time any more, but the R&A are introducing the GolfSixes six-hole event, which is like T20 in cricket but only for golf, and has already proved really popular, so the time element of it is being looked at to keep the game fun.”
Long-established Ambler and Andrew’s business partner Corp, 35, are both Class AA professionals while Carman brings years of club and tour experience to the mix.
Corp, originally from Fixby but now Longwood, went to Rastrick High and played at Elland and Huddersdfield before doing his apprenticeship at Bradley Park under Parnell Reilly in 2003.