Welcome to Southport Golf Academy – Junior Section
Following requests from juniors and parents alike we were able to persuade some of our parents to aid in the development of our juniors following normal coaching lessons. This means that every weekend throughout the year there is an opportunity for juniors aged between 7 and 14 to play competitively on the golf course whilst supervised, against players of a similar standard. This then led to the formation of the junior membership scheme which has now been up and running Since May 2012.
It is so important for juniors to get out and play a course, but so difficult to do so – courses in the area rightly expect high standards and therefore the opportunities for juniors to play can be restricted. We feel that it is our role to provide this opportunity and teach beginners and developing golfers not only technique, but the correct rules and etiquette that is expected from the prestigious clubs in the area. Our academy golf course is designed to provide a realistic test, with all the attributes of what players will encounter during their golfing lifetime and allows junior golfers the experience to develop into the club members of the future. After learning about course management, golfing etiquette and the rules during lessons, our juniors are able to put into practice what they are told in a safe and relaxed environment on course under the direct supervision of staff and volunteer junior organisers.
Since its formation, the current junior membership scheme can boast no less than 5 junior club captains, 6 Lancashire boys squad members, a Lancashire Girls U18 Elite squad captain and a National Skills Champion (from 1200 participants).
Junior Wednesday Club Nights
As part of the junior membership scheme there are 16 mid-week ‘club nights’ running every Wednesday during school term time between April and September. These informal evenings run from 6pm-8pm and involve the Professionals and junior organisers being on hand to supervise another opportunity to play or practice. The aim is to deliver structured practice or develop a given aspect of on course play on a regular basis, whilst all the time gaining the vital experience needed to improve as quickly as possible.
With at least one of our coaches organising activities every week, it is a brilliant opportunity for them to analyse each individuals game and better structure the content of each lesson, whether individual or in a group, to ensure the continued development of each players game.
Several times throughout the programme also both coaches play with teams of juniors in competition to give a valuable insight into how the game is played at a professional level.
As the formal organisation of membership is still in relative infancy, our view going forward is to develop a strong nucleus of golfers able to represent themselves and us against other junior sections in the area. This is an example of links currently being discussed with the leading local golf clubs with a view to also create a simpler and clearer pathway of progression to becoming successful club members.
Junior Order of Merit
Of course, as our juniors become more confident in their abilities there is a need and desire to test themselves against their peers. To accommodate this, weekly stroke play and stableford competitions are run by our team of volunteer junior organisers and scores count towards an annual Order of Merit after which the coveted trophy is awarded. Apart from learning about handicapping and monitoring their progress through it, competitive golf gives the children a platform to practice good sportsmanship and etiquette, values which we feel are far more important than good play; of course it is also good preparation for future club competitive golf.
Summer & Winter Matchplay Leagues
In addition to the fortnightly handicap qualifying competitions, there are also Summer and Winter matchplay leagues. The aim of these is to of course give our juniors the chance to play another format which will be available to them as they progress. Matchplay is also a brilliant opportunity to put sportsmanship theory into practice and learn to interact correctly and directly with other golfers. The winter leagues also ensure that competitive golf is available throughout the off season, giving a reason to practice when the weather becomes a little less desirable!
Pathway to Membership at Local Golf Clubs
SGA has been accredited as the official junior teaching academy to a number of local golf clubs. Widely regarded as one of the most desirable areas for golf in the country, demand for membership at clubs in the area is extremely high. As is understandable, the challenges that championship golf courses of these standards present, would cause problems for inexperienced junior golfers. Our link with these clubs has given us the responsibility of taking new or inexperienced juniors wishing to join the clubs and preparing them for life as member. Our accredited junior coaching program covers all aspects of technique needed to play the game, but more importantly teaches the etiquette and rules demanded by the highest standard of golf clubs.
Once the junior has achieved the desired standard, we are able to recommend them for membership at the next intake, ensuring the ability and knowledge required by the golf club are met.
This link also gives us the ability to simplify the process for any of our junior members to move on to these clubs when their ability and ambition exceeds the facilities at the Academy.
We would like to say a big thank you to Kevin Allsworth who turns in each weekend to assist with supervision and organisation of the juniors, we really do appreciate it. There are some great plans for the section in the coming months, which can only improve the standards further. Offers of help are always welcome from parents or grandparents who would be happy to walk the course during competition – just let us know.