Meghan MacLaren tees off as a new Ambassador for the Golf Foundation
The Golf Foundation is delighted to welcome Meghan MacLaren as an Ambassador for the national golf charity that encourages young people from all backgrounds to benefit from the sport. Meghan’s first assignment was performed with skill and style at Golf At Goodwood on Sunday May 5th, as she struck the first official shot to launch the Foundation’s national GolfSixes League series that can help thousands of boys and girls to thrive in team golf in their golf clubs.
The Golf Foundation supports young people to Start, Learn and Stay in the game. Its ‘Golf for All’ philosophy welcomes more youngsters into the sport, regardless of ability, and believes the introduction of golf should be fun, child-centred, inclusive, inspiring, innovative and enriching.
Meghan MacLaren, from Northamptonshire, is currently fourth in the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit and in her short career so far has won four times on the professional stage: twice in her time on the LET Access Series and twice since playing on the Ladies European Tour itself – in both cases winning the NSW Open in Australia (for a second time back in March), while narrowly missing out as runner-up in the recent Jordan Mixed Open.
Meghan’s opening tee-shot at Golf At Goodwood heralded a season in which 56 inter-club GolfSixes Leagues featuring over 250 golf clubs will take place in England, Scotland and Wales, benefiting more than 3,000 boys and girls and their families (teams of six, playing six holes in team colours). Every child taking part in GolfSixes League receives three Titleist golf balls: Titleist, the #1 Ball in Golf, is a key supporter of the Golf Foundation (see more on GolfSixes League at https://bit.ly/2HTdSqL).
Meghan MacLaren said: “It was wonderful today to meet and chat with the young players and their parents; many are new to golf but it was great to see families walking around together in the fresh air. It was also very refreshing to see competitive mixed golf at a young age so that girls and boys see this as a normal part of golf and life.
“It’s fantastic that the Golf Foundation is supporting all young people from all backgrounds to get into golf. I am also really impressed with the active efforts by this charity to encourage more girls into golf and to give girls of all ages opportunities within the sport, even offering them leadership training. I was very fortunate as a young junior that my first club [Wexham Park in Slough] was really supportive towards its young players; boys and girls need a welcoming environment and good mentors in order to thrive together.”
Golf Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle said: “We believe Meghan’s highly positive attitude, spirit and sense of sportsmanship makes her an excellent role model for girls and boys, established and new to the sport. We are quite sure she will be a fantastic Ambassador for our work.
“It was no surprise to us that after flying in from Dubai on Saturday and watching her beloved Newcastle United FC at St James’ Park on Saturday night, that Meghan then travelled the length of the country to join us today. Meghan was brilliant here for us this afternoon; always encouraging to the youngsters with a sense of humour that the parents really enjoyed too. It’s great for children to meet top players and her shotmaking will have inspired them, along with her patiently answering their questions and signing hats and balls. We were also hugely fortunate to be able to stage this event today at Golf At Goodwood; their golf team led by Stuart Gillett were fantastic in their support and helped to demonstrate what a friendly and welcoming venue this is.”
Stuart Gillett, Golf At Goodwood General Manager, said: “We were delighted to host the first event in this exciting series on The Park course at Golf At Goodwood. On the same day we also held our Junior Open on The Downs course so had over 120 juniors playing across both courses, which just demonstrates how important the development of the game is to us at Golf At Goodwood.”
The Golf Foundation requests all golf clubs taking part in GolfSixes League, which is supported by Sport England, to encourage at least two girls to take part in each team of six. As an early signatory of The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter, the Foundation has a key focus in encouraging more girls into the sport, and supporting girls to become young leaders and role models for other girls in the future. The Foundation is urging golf clubs to involve more girls in their activities, is partnering England Golf in the growing ‘Girls Golf Rocks’ initiative in 26 counties, while encouraging schools to include 50% girls in their mixed teams for the School Games.
Golf Project Improves Youngsters’ Lives
Pilot projects across England deliver statistically significant improvement in children’s mental wellbeing in a matter of weeks
The Golf Foundation has revealed the remarkable results of a research project measuring the impact of a new coaching programme for 11-16 year olds. In 10 weeks, every youngster taking part in the pilot projects showed a statistically significant improvement in Mental Toughness which evaluates Confidence, Commitment, Challenge and Control. Furthermore, all the participants used the techniques they had learnt in their golf lessons to better address challenges in everyday life: at school, in exams and at home.
The new programme, devised in collaboration with Mindset experts Yeast Ltd and a group of PGA professionals, teaches techniques such as breathing and visualisation alongside traditional golf skills. Participants were assessed at the beginning and end of the programme using a standard Mental Toughness test (MTQ48) which measures how people respond when faced with stressors, pressure and challenge.
“Average improvement amongst the youngsters who took part was 20%, which is both significant and life changing,” explains Peter Wortley, Senior Partner at Yeast. “Mentally Tough people perform better, have high levels of mental well being and can get the best out of themselves, which is exactly what we have seen in the children we worked with through the Golf Foundation project. They are making the most of their lives, contributing more at home and at school and are happier as a result.”
The impressive data is reinforced with anecdotal evidence including one particularly impactful story from Alex Macgregor, PGA Professional at Addington Court Golf Club. One of his students was regularly excluded from school for losing his temper, but during the programme Alex was able to teach him breathing and visualisation techniques that allowed him to ‘control his fizz’ which enabled the child to avoid exclusion for the entire length of programme.
One unexpected outcome was the impact of the programme on the PGA professionals and parents of participants, who widely reported using the techniques that the youngsters were being taught in their everyday lives. Tom Hide, PGA professional at Coastal Golf Academy at Frinton Golf Club commented, “The programme has completely changed the way I coach, but it has also had a huge impact on my life. I’ve been really impressed by the changes I’ve seen in the children and their parents are as committed to the programme as we are.”
The Golf Foundation now plans to roll out the new programme under the name ‘Unleash Your Drive’, a title chosen by the charity’s Young Ambassadors. Whilst the research project was developed specifically for golf it is clear from the findings that the potential for Unleash Your Drive reaches beyond golf as Brendon Pyle, CEO of the Golf Foundation explains, “Children are under an increasing amount of pressure from all angles, which is why we are incredibly proud of the results of this research project. It provides proof that children benefit from using the techniques we incorporated into golf coaching, which opens the exciting possibility of us using this beyond golf. We have made life better for all the children involved, in fact, they are the biggest advocates of the programme, which tells us everything we need to know.”
Rob Trotman, father of 14 year old Oliver Trotman who took part in the programme at Frinton Golf Club, summarised the impact Unleash Your Drive has had on his family, “Throughout the programme I’ve seen Oli grow in confidence. He’s taken what he’s learnt and used it on the golf course, at home and at school. As a family we’ve hugely benefitted from using the techniques he’s brought home, and I have no doubt that what he’s learnt will last a lifetime. He’s turning into a fine young man.”
The next steps for ‘Unleash Your Drive’ will be for the Golf Foundation to host a series of five regional one-day training workshops for attending PGA professionals. The workshops will be part of the PGA’s CPD programme and will be presented by the team from Yeast and a PGA Coach from the pilot study. A phased national roll-out of the programme will be announced soon.
See more at www.golf-foundation.org