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Blainroe doubles junior membership with help from CGI

​​With 100% increase in the junior membership over the last number of years, Blainroe Golf Club is going from strength to strength.

  • 13 November 2018

Blainroe Golf Club lies in the heart of Co. Wicklow and in the last number of years they have worked to double their junior membership at the club. In 2015, there were 122 registered junior members, a number which at the end of 2018 sits on 265.  

The Junior Committee has worked with the Confederation of Golf in Ireland’s Jennifer Hickey for the last number of years and Olga, a tennis coach, is part of the Junior Committee and has driven the change in the Junior Programme. Olga spoke to us about the success at Blainroe.

Why did you choose to engage with the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI)?
By chance, as I was unsure of where to begin in order to grow our Junior section, someone mentioned to me to contact CGI which ultimately led me to touching base with Jennifer Hickey. We quickly decided that I would get some groups of children together and she would come down to do a taster session. 

I went about getting some children from the local school by firstly doing a workshop where I spoke a little bit about the club but also did some activities and they were able to ask questions. We then followed up a week later with a practical workshop with Jennifer. I watched how Jennifer ran the workshop and in the following months I was able to repeat elements of what she had done and we began to welcome a number of new junior members from the club.

If I joined your club as a junior member, what would I expect to get/see?
We have coaching and competitions running at Blainroe and we are building some social activities into the calendar also in order to build a holistic approach to their development. We have a talent show planned in the run up to Christmas for example and we have had a number of table quizzes and a family scramble. 

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We also run weekly Saturday competitions or coaching over the winter months so that coming to the golf club becomes a habit. They may only play a few holes and then head to the clubhouse for their chips but it means that they are not losing touch over the winter.

What are you most proud of in the junior programme?
We have a very good committee in place with some very active members. When I originally got involved we had 40 Junior Members and only 2 Junior Committee members, we now have a committee of 10. 

The work the committee does is fantastic, we all get on so well and we don’t just talk, we are active when it comes to new ideas or implementing the programme. 

What advice would you give to other clubs looking to develop their junior sections?
I think I would advise clubs that once you recruit junior members that is not the end of the road, you have to cater for all levels and retain those members – there is no point only catering for the children who are good players or who show promise, there needs to be activities for all. 

We do this by splitting the juniors into groups for our coaching sessions, however this is flexible and if friends want to stay together that is OK too. With the girls particularly, they love to play scrambles which is perfect, the girls we do have playing a full 18 holes will then help out with the younger ones which is a great help.

What support did you get from the PGA Professional and Golf Club?
David Lewis, our Club Professional, has been very supportive. All the junior members really look up to him and respect him. We also have received amazing support from our management committee which has been very important. 

How do you fund the junior activity? 
The children themselves pay to enter their competitions and pay an additional fee for their coaching sessions, however the annual fee isn’t extensive. 

We run a couple of raffles annually to raise additional funds also for prizes. 

We have seen a knock-on effect from the increase in junior members to our Women’s Get into Golf programme – a number of the parents are now getting involved in the club which is great to see. 

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Caption: Blainroe Juniors enjoy a visit from the ice-cream van during the summer holidays