In 2006 the Czech Golf Federation set out its objectives to build a long-term programme to try and develop junior golfers in the Czech Republic. Its aim was to increase the number of junior golfers playing within schools and golf clubs and to identify the talented golfers at an early age.
Alongside the R&A who were already funding golf in the Czech Republic, the Ryder Cup European Development Trust agreed to support this development programme, which would begin with junior programmes in ten selected golf clubs.
In the first year alone, the number of Junior Training Centres increased from 10 in 2006 to 16 in 2007 and then up to 21 in 2008. Each region of the Czech Republic has at least one Junior Training Centre. The number of junior golfers within the Junior Training Centres dramatically increased, reaching almost 2,500 by the end of 2008 (approximately 600 more junior golfers than in 2007). It is hugely important to the Czech Golf Federation that the children are taught correctly right from the beginning, so that they can progress through the ranks and learn the fundamentals of the game of golf.
By the end of 2008 the Czech Golf Federation was organising more than 50 junior golf tournaments, including tournaments among the centres and various regional competitions. In addition, the number of junior events for 2009 and beyond is planned to be even greater and as the Czech Golf Federation is co-operating more with schools local to the Junior Training Centres, it is hoped that this will also grow the number of participants.
What is especially promising is that the development of the junior golf programme within the Czech Republic has now given players a clear route to progress from the Junior Training Centre to the Development Squad and then ultimately the Performance Squad, so the Czech Golf Federation has been very successful in establishing a three tier system for junior golf which is actually working. By creating a strong base at the bottom of the pyramid, the membership base is growing and allows junior golfers to progress through the ranks – some of them have even competed abroad successfully already.
The Czech Golf Federation is working hard to continue the development of the Junior Training Centres and is still fully committed to leading it to success. As golf continues to grow within the Czech Republic, it should in time attain government support, once golf becomes more popular and more available to all.