Pros advice

Secondary school in Liverpool sets up golf academy to nurture future stars

A secondary school in Merseyside has launched a golf academy as it bids to create a stepping stone for the next generation of golf stars.

Kirkby High School has been awarded a £7,000 Sport England grant which will be used for transport, equipment and coaching costs at the academy – set up to nurture budding golfers in the community.

The golf academy is being headed up by Jay McKane, the school’s pastoral support officer, with additional support from local golf clubs including Kirkby and Aintree.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Mr McKane said: “Talent can come from anywhere and we have some promising young players in Kirkby. There are great physical and social benefits from playing golf, as with all sports, and it’s great to see these benefits blossoming in our students.

“Along with tennis and cricket, we are keen for pupils to have access to all sports especially those which may be difficult for them to access without this kind of initiative.

“We realise that golf can be costly and not every child gets the chance to play.

“Earlier this year, pupils visited local driving ranges to practise their golf. Now we are trying to develop their skills further and build the links with golf clubs including Kirkby and Aintree, through getting membership for our pupils.

“We want them to get the basic skills which can then be developed. We’d also like to set up a competition in the locality.”

Golfers of the future

Scot Duffy, Aintree Golf Centre professional, has been recruited to help coach the pupils and was quick to point out how many of them showed real potential.

“Golf is a fantastic sport for youngsters to learn and this is a great project with Kirkby High School,” he said.

"I’ve coached quite a few youngsters who have had success including Holly Muse, from Kirkby, who was an England Under-14 Girls Champion and this year became the youngest-ever champion, aged 14, of the Lancashire Ladies County Championship.

“She’s going to be some golfer in the future.”

Head teacher Bill Leyland believes it’s events such as the British Open that has really opened doors for youngers to fall in love with golf again. He said: “The eyes of the sporting world have been on the North West for the Open golf championship at Hoylake.

“This has created a real opportunity to generate excitement about this project and reach as many of our community as possible.”

Georgia Roughley, a 13-year-old pupil at the high school, said: “I used to play the odd putt in my uncle’s garden but never really played properly. When Mr McKane asked if I’d like to play, I said yes. Now I’m trying to encourage other girls to play golf including my mates.

“I accidentally hit a golf ball onto a neighbour’s porch recently and they thought it must have been my little brother who had been practising. They didn’t realise I played golf because I’m a girl.”

New initiatives such as this will ensure that golf remains one of the more popular sports in the UK and is great for the long-term future of the sport in this country.

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