So much suffered with the Covid-19 pandemic, but golf, including junior golf, has thrived.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a huge increase in golf participation numbers.  According to the 2020 GB&I Golf Participation Report, 2.3 million more people played last year, than before the pandemic.  The R&A stated in May of this year, “In Great Britain, driving range participation nearly doubled over the last year”.  The GB&I report also found that since the pandemic, the average age of golf participants has decreased by five years. The number of junior golfers has increased.

A major reason for this increase is that golf was an escape from some of the challenges of lockdowns and, as it is outdoors and could comply with social distancing, something that was able to restart sooner than many other activities. Golf has so many benefits for young people.  As well as a new sport to enjoy and to be challenged to improve in, it also offers great benefits for health and mental wellbeing as well as the merits of socialising and of being out in the fresh air.  Golf is a sport that they can continue into adulthood.  There are various opportunities to start golf at local driving ranges, pay-to-play courses and private golf clubs.

This increase in junior golf participation can be seen locally at Fulwell Golf Club, where they now have 83 junior members from ages 6 to 18.  This has been a huge increase of over 60% since 2019. 

I was fortunate to be able to discuss this with Murray Cook, Secretary of Fulwell Golf Club, and hear his views on junior golf:

Do you think Covid and lockdowns caused an increase in the junior membership?

“I think Covid and lockdowns has helped golf, like all outdoor sports. The importance of being outside has been highlighted and with golf being one of the first sports available, this has increased participation across all ages.”

Why, in your opinion, are junior members important to the club?

“Ultimately, juniors are the future of the game. When you are young you naturally learn quicker and are willing to give things a go. Within a club it is important to have a mixture of ages and juniors are integral to that.  

Even if they don’t continue playing in their twenties and thirties, introducing them to the game of golf at a young age gives them the ability to return to the game at a later point.”

What does Fulwell Golf Club offer the junior members in terms of lessons and tournaments?

“We offer regular competitions for the junior members and this is increasing again in 2022 and we hope that participation will be increased with the extra juniors now members. As a club we normally offer some “free” group coaching to our members in the holidays but private lessons are available from our Professionals at a time to suit the individual.”

What benefits do you think there are for young people to play golf?

“One of the main benefits is being outside and meeting people. When you are young it is the best time to learn a sport and if you have had that experience, even if you don’t continue whilst at University etc, you can always come back to it.

Another key element which often goes unspoken, having played golf from 12 years old myself, I had to mature from a young age to be able to play golf with adults and be in the golf club environment. It taught me key life skills from a very young age.”

Does the club have any plans to further enhance opportunities for juniors at the club?

“Like with all things, we are always looking to improve. We want to raise the profile of Juniors both internally and externally and also get them playing regularly against other clubs and in external competitions.”

How do the adult members view the junior members?

“The adult members fully support the juniors at Fulwell. Any initiative that we run they support and this is seen every year with our Junior Open where the prize fund is generated through member sponsorship and each year we raise at least £1,500 for the junior prize fund and coaching.

Having parents of juniors at the club always helps ensure a friendly environment also much like in other sporting environments.”