Hagley Golf Club has pledged to take golf to the inner city after unveiling its new practice facilities.
The cub officially opened its new state of the art, 24-bay driving range and coaching facilities this week and has reaffirmed its commitment to the Golf Roots scheme, the largest ever UK programme to introduce urban youngsters to golf.
The range, which has been five years in the planning and features heated bays and power tees, will host secondary and primary school pupils from south Birmingham who will be introduced to the basics of golf.
PGA professional Gareth Snelgrove, one of three teaching professionals who will be coaching the youngsters, said the scheme was designed to increase the numbers of youngsters taking up the sport.
“The idea is to make golf more accessible,” he said. “It has always had this stigma of being an exclusive sport but we hope through Golf Roots and with the help of the new facilities, which are available for anyone to use, that we can open more doors for people wanting to play golf.
“Golf Roots is a fantastic initiative through the Golf Foundation’s urban funding and we aim to draw more youngsters into the sport.
“Hagley and Halesowen Golf Club are involved and we are teaming up with four secondary schools and their feeder primary schools to give children who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity the chance to try golf.
“We will also be going into schools using the Xtreme Golf scheme for secondary school pupils and Tri Golf for primary pupils. These facilities will prove to be the missing link for the club.”
The range, which has been developed thanks to a ‘substantial’ investment, was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Coun Chauhdry Abdul Rashid, and European Tour player Richard Finch held a coaching clinic for local youngsters.
LPGA professional Felicity Johnson, who will be working at the club between her European tour commitments, said she hoped to also get involved with the coaching.
“This side of Birmingham has been crying out for facilities like these,” said the 21-year-old from Harborne. “Before, golfers have had to travel miles to enjoy facilities like these. These facilities are for everyone.”
Johnson developed her golf at Church Farm Golf Club and she hopes Golf Roots scheme will help others follow in her footsteps.
“The more children playing golf the better,” she said. “If they catch the bug at a young age we will get more players who will continue to play when they are older.
“It is great for the area to get the local schools involved and make golf accessible to children who wouldn’t ordinarily get to play golf.”