In the main, the funding we receive in 2021 will allow us to provide an important development pathway for the younger or less experienced golfers to hopefully achieve their full potential. At present, in our County, due to declining numbers of Junior players and a resulting lack of Junior Opens we have a gap in being able to provide valuable playing opportunities for Juniors who want to develop their game by playing at courses away from their home club. As a result, the men’s union have linked in with the ladies golf association, at the Junior Golf level, and in 2022 are launching the Foxes Junior Pathway Tour which is structured to allow players at all levels (including non-handicapped golfers) to play at events away from their home club to not only develop their own game but also make new friends and grow as young people. Hopefully, this will also help to keep players more interested in the game as they see a gradual progression in their ability through the structured pathway and who knows it might eventually lead to some going on to represent their County and Country in years to come.
The funding received will be used to set up, run and establish our local County managed Junior Golf Tour, at a reasonable entry cost, so that it becomes more accessible to those who may not able to enter the more commercial junior tours that are currently springing up across all counties. With the funding and dedication/energies of the volunteers involved, we will be able to provide the players with an exciting, fun and friendly series of events with a professional feel at a value for money cost. It will also be run at Clubs within our County which will help to keep travel costs and the associated environmental impacts to a minimum during these challenging times.
We will measure success with the growth in the number of handicapped Juniors across the County. This will be baselined at the start of 2022 split Boys and Girls using the total number with a handicap who played golf in 2021 – this will then be compared in January 2023 with the number who played golf in 2022. The other main measure we will look at is the number of players at individual clubs and measuring the conversion from non-handicapped players to handicapped players which will demonstrate the value of our pathway tour. In future years we will also look to measure growth in player number actually playing on our pathway tour events with 2022 figures providing the baseline.
Work has started on planning and the initial launch was made last month – we have already received 36 player expressions of interest. Updates and further promotion will run during the end of 2021 and early 2022 with the first of the 5 events starting in May 2022 and the final event in August 2022. The main objective supported by this funding is to develop, grow and sustain the number of juniors (Boys and Girls) playing golf in our county. In turn, this should, in the long run, 2/3 years, will improve the pool of players we can draw from for County Representation.
In the past, the Taskers Trophy funding has been used not only to improve existing junior players across the County but also to grow the number of new players coming into the game. his has been achieved by
Running Junior Open days (2 – 4 ideally) at different courses across the county where we will be on-site with our County Coaches to develop an awareness for existing players on how the county junior programme works and also encourage new players to become involved in the game.
For existing players using our County Training Programs, we looked to grow the number of players in our county development squad and did add 8 during 2021
Also, during 2021 we saw an increase (measured against previous years) in players attending the Flag 50 competition previously run by the Girls Organiser for just Girls which we expanded out to cover both Boys and Girls.
The main aim was to see the growth of new players entering the game and an increase in the pool to draw players from for the County Boys Squad and ultimately into the County Men’s Squads. Although the pandemic has affected the plans we did have we have still seen growth in 2021 albeit not to the extend we had hoped for but in 2022 supported again by Taskers I am sure we will go from strength to strength.
Mick Billingham - L&RGU Director of Junior Golf