The starting point for any beginner looking to try golf for the first time, is to head to the local driving range or practice area and learn to swing a club. Getting on to a golf course is a very distant goal for those
beginning their golfing journey. And in a sport where attracting and retaining new participants is increasingly more challenging, this factor makes it even more difficult to keep people engaged and motivated. Golf Access was created to overcome this disconnect.
Golf Access is a new beginner programme, with its own innovative scoring system, played on a shortened version of the main course.
The maximum hole length is 250 yards and a set of permanent tees are located on the front 9 or the full 18 holes of the course. There are 9 different coloured scoring levels for players to attain, with each level represented by a corresponding coloured wrist band and certificate for juniors, or poker chip ball marker for adults.
The unique scoring system and banding provides beginners a step-by-step map of their progress in the game. It also provides them with incentives to improve their scores from beginner, right through to being ready to attain an official CONGU handicap and progress to the standard tees.
On completion of Golf Access, players can progress onto Golf Access+ and obtain a handicap of 54. Similar to Golf Access, there are 9 coloured levels to progress through in Golf Access+, with a handicap reduction at each level achieved.
In the first year since its inception, there are already over 50 clubs and short courses in England signed up as Golf Access Centres. Skibbereen & West Carbury has recently become the first club in Ireland to sign up and is already the largest Golf Access Centre with Head Professional Sarah Claridge signing up over 60 juniors in the first week.
Teignmouth Golf Club in the South West of England is also seeing huge benefits since introducing Golf Access. “Golf Access came at a really good time for us as a club” says Director of Golf Rob Selley. “We were struggling to convert the juniors from the Saturday morning coaching into regular players with CONGU handicaps. We now organise a junior night every Monday evening off the forward tees using the Golf Access system.”
Teignmouth has between 20 and 30 juniors turn up every Monday evening during the summer and include food on completion of the golf so both parents and juniors can socialise in the clubhouse afterwards.
Selley continues “The Golf Access structure gives the juniors the motivation to improve through learning the game on the golf course and all they talk about is progressing to the next level! We will have some juniors that started Golf Access at the beginning of the year who will attain a CONGU handicap this summer!”
Wrangaton Golf Club has created a Golf Access course that range in length from 100 to 250 yards. Head Professional Stuart Barrett says, “We are very active with the Get into Golf scheme and going out onto the golf course for beginners after the initial couple of lessons can be very daunting, so the Golf Access initiative is a fantastic way for juniors and new golfers to get out onto the golf course from a starting tee more appropriate to their ability.”
“The Golf Access programme offers beginners a more positive experience when they get out on to the course and the feedback we have had is that it is a great stepping stone before becoming a member of a club and progressing to getting a handicap.” Newquay PGA Professional Josh Hancock was one of the first Professionals to sign up to the Golf Access scheme.
Newquay has over 30 juniors attending weekly coaching every Friday evening which involves coaching and regularly play on the course using the Golf Access scoring system. Josh commented, “Golf Access is perfect for us at Newquay as all of the juniors are fairly new to the game and the structure gives the juniors something to strive towards, attaining each level before they are good enough for an official handicap.”
“We have seen a lot more juniors play in their own time since signing up to Golf Access and it’s great to see each of them motivated to practice and play more to try to get their next band and certificates.”
For more information about the Golf Access initiative, please contact Simon Wood on 01752 847600.
Golf Access www.golfaccess.co.uk