How Mountain Ash Golf Club transformed itself by engaging with local primary schools
Mountain Ash Golf Club is a members-club which nestles on top of Cefnpennar mountain south of Merthyr Tydfil in the Welsh Valleys.
For a number of years, the Junior Section had become gradually smaller and by February 2016 virtually non-existent as there was no female member and only one registered junior affiliated to the club and he was 17 years of age.
Club management was determined to improve this situation and the club Chairman and Chair of Greens’ Committee led an initiative to increase junior membership, initially meeting with Golf Development Wales, Sports Development Department of Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council and local primary and secondary schools.
As a result, an event was organised for those club members willing to help to try and redress the membership problem. A golf festival was held with local primary schools at the local sports centre and almost 100 junior aged children attended. A local advertising campaign has held, and external grants sought to purchase equipment.
Equipment was also donated by club members.
Following this, coaching was arranged at the club, initially indoors in a multi-function room. From the first Saturday session in March 2016 numbers gradually increased from the initial seven in attendance and as the weather improved the first three holes of the golf course was closed to the general membership to allow the gradually increasing number of juniors to use the course.
In all 77 juniors enrolled for coaching throughout the remainder of the calendar year.
By now the Junior Section was being run by two volunteers who were club members, both of whom had many years of working in and with schools.
The club does not have a professional coach, however during the summer months only Joe Vickery was employed to help coach the juniors, and again, due to limited practice facilities, parts of the course were closed to the general club members.
Coaching continued during the winter months on the course, but during inclement weather, the local Sports centre was used for indoor coaching.
The key person behind the initiative is Stuart Whippey who retired a couple of years ago working in education
(cue; if you want to reach out to schools it helps to have someone with a background in education involved).