The Bulgarian Golf Association was established in 2001, with the aim of establishing, developing and promoting golf throughout Bulgaria, hoping to make the game of golf accessible to all.
In order to do this, the Bulgarian Golf Association established a series of objectives in order to get the programme started, including the development of a systematic and more organised approach to junior golf by providing support for golf sessions at school and golf facilities so that young people are given their first introduction to golf. This would then be complemented by the development of individuals and teams in order to allow Bulgaria to compete at international and European levels, with a view to producing a national team to represent Bulgaria at the Eisenhower Trophy every year and other international golfing events.
Funding from the Ryder Cup European Development Trust is being used to support the development of this programme, to provide golfing equipment and to allow the Bulgarian Golf Association to try to grow the game of golf in a country where golf is not very well known.
The junior golf development programme began in 2006, with the involvement of schools and the creation of elite and development programmes for young golfers. Using Tri-Golf and SNAG systems at selected schools, a total of almost 1200 children tried golf in the first three months of the scheme. The programme was met with tremendous enthusiasm from both children and parents, as it was the first time that golf had ever been taught in Bulgarian schools. Following such a successful start, the programme was then rolled out to all schools, and then lead to introducing the children to a real golf course – St Sofia Golf Course and Spa. The idea behind this is to find a few children from each school to develop into young golfers.
From all the participants, 150 children were invited to continue into the second stage of training, and 110 accepted. These junior golfers enjoyed a further month’s training, using metal clubs for the first time and learning about practical and theoretical skills in golf, chipping, putting and the golf swing. At the end of the month, 50 children were selected for a more intensive summer golf course and by the middle of October, some children had developed enough to play nine holes on an actual golf course and be awarded a handicap certificate.
The Ministry of Education in Bulgaria gave its support to this golf programme in November 2007, endorsing the programme and recommending it to all schools. It is hoped that with such a rousing endorsement, the game of golf will continue to develop throughout Bulgaria, with the more advanced children acting as role models for those coming into the game.