A new approach to juniors — the FUTURE of our game
By Dean Murphy
New Zealand Golf Chief Executive
New Zealand Golf launches a new approach to junior golf this month.
By way of background, we have for some time been concerned at the number of young people playing golf and what this means for the future of our game. While participation numbers are relatively stable, the number of junior club members has halved since 2005.
This is clearly concerning, so we have needed to stop and take stock of what is happening in this area and think through how we can make some positive progress.
It should be noted that the current state is not a result of lack of motivation or endeavour. There are significant amounts of money invested every year into this space and there is a huge number of clubs, coaches and volunteers who do amazing work. For some reason, we just aren’t shifting the national dial in the right direction.
We have therefore developed a new strategy for young people in golf which is the culmination of years of learning, consultation, listening to our young people and parent’s experiences in golf, and scanning good practice at home and abroad.
To help us on this journey, a junior advisory group was formed to provide recommendations to New Zealand Golf on how it should approach the future with regard to young people in golf.
Led by the incomparable Murray Macklin, the advisory group is made up of individuals with expertise in young people, golf, health, sport, sport development, programme development, coaching and marketing. The recommendations made by the experts from the junior advisory group have become our guiding principles and now form the basis for our new approach to this area.
In simple terms, we need to inspire more young people to play the game. However, simply stating that goal is not going to get us anywhere. We need a new approach and we are calling it FUTURES.
At the outset it’s important to state that this new approach is not just a new brand or a bunch of new programmes. We have spent considerable time developing this new approach which is based on the clear need for long-term systemic change. While ideas, initiatives and programmes come and go, this new approach is about resetting our strategy for the long term.
In simple terms, FUTURES is about enriching the lives of young people by creating experiences that inspire a lifelong love of golf. Our firm belief is that if we can create a lifelong love of golf in young people, the future of the game of golf (and our country) will be in good hands.
The full details of our new approach will be shared widely in the coming months. But I can share the six key workstreams (as recommended by the junior advisory group) that the approach features:
1. A new perception and increased profile for golf as a sport for young people.
2. Pathways for young people to start playing golf and support them to reach their level of aspirations.
3. Empowering young people to play their version of golf.
4. A network of facilities that are attractive to young people and engages them easily.
5. A skilled and passionate workforce of coaches, administrators and volunteers who understand the wants and needs of young people.
6. A cohesive structure that utilises the best resources and partnerships.
FUTURES is here to inspire the next generation of golfers but also has a much wider appeal and impact for the future of golf, our communities and our country.
More positive experiences for young people playing golf will give them the motivation, confidence and skills to play and be active for life, contributing to healthier, happier futures.
Golf is a sport that teaches valuable life skills like honesty, respect, teamwork and perseverance creating a pathway for young people to become future leaders. The opportunity to learn and play the game together is about creating a positive impact on family life, memories to cherish that will be carried long into the future.
This is why our work in this area is about more than just a game, it’s an investment into brighter futures. We’re looking forward to resetting our approach in this area and making better progress.