Junior Golf Ireland, a partnership formed between the Golfing Union of Ireland, the Irish Ladies Golf Union and The Professional Golfers’ Association (Irish Region) was created in 2003 to oversee the development of junior golf throughout Ireland.
Junior Golf Ireland is the introductory stage to golf for each of the three partner organisations. By providing funding to Junior Golf Ireland, the Ryder Cup European Development Trust has ensured that the necessary structures are in place to sustain the long-term development of players for the future of golf in Ireland through this grass-roots programme.
Funding from the Ryder Cup European Development Trust has enabled Junior Golf Ireland to appoint Regional Development Officers in order to create an awareness of golf to children in primary and secondary schools throughout Ireland and to create pathways for the children to become regular golfers both at club and elite level.
Junior Golf Ireland has organised junior coaching clinics, has provided coaching for children at European Tour events in Ireland (often visited by successful Ryder Cup players – Graeme McDowell, Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington have all participated), established golf ‘summer camps’ for children and co-ordinated Tri-Golf sessions, all in an attempt to get as many children as possible involved in the game.
As the project has developed, the number of coaching centres has more than tripled, with a coaching centre now in almost every county. Junior Golf Ireland staff ensure that a structured coaching programme is now being followed in many golf clubs across the country. Children work through a recognised coaching programme, with over 1,200 juniors registered. Junior Golf Ireland has also started a partnership with the Darren Clarke Foundation, which supports the coaching programme and sponsors a ‘skills challenge’ for the children.
Junior Golf Ireland is continuing to grow in all areas, with more clubs and junior convenors now in contact through the network of development officers, the newsletter and website.