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GUI Juniors: Leading by Example at Tralee

​​Tralee needs no introduction to golf lovers the world over and for the growing band of juniors learning to play on the north Kerry links, it is fast becoming a dream academy.

  • 25 July 2017

PHOTO: The impressive dunes at Tralee. Image by Golffile.

Those too young to tackle the championship course get their first taste of golf on the club's five-hole academy course, which provides the perfect introduction. Short holes, measuring approximately 80 yards, give beginner-players the chance to hone their skills.

Next year the club will have completed work on a new par-three course featuring six holes, the longest of which will measure 200 yards. This addition will provide an intermediate step for players as they learn the game.

"By the time they hit the main course, they'll be ready for it," says Catherine McCarthy, Tralee's junior convenor.

As the club's junior section continues to thrive, more facilities are coming on stream. As well as the par-three course, the club have built a driving range, sheltered bays and an indoor studio. Green-lighting this investment did not happen overnight and it has taken the club a number of years to get to this point. More importantly, the club recognised the need to recruit juniors and grow their playing base.

Through the work of the junior committee, the club is now more in tune with the needs of juniors and membership has been expanded to cater for the children of non-members.

Coaching camps are run during Easter and Summer holidays and it is a requirement for prospective juniors that they complete at least one camp before taking up membership. As an incentive, first year junior membership is available for just €50.

Head professional David Power co-ordinates the club's coaching programme while assistant professional John Casey accompanies players when they travel to compete at junior league events across Kerry. From February to November, the juniors take to the course each Saturday while Wednesdays are an added bonus during school holidays.

As players progress, they move on to new challenges. Once their handicap reaches 24, boys are permitted to play off white tees. When their handicap gets down to 15, they are eligible to play in men's competitions.

Recently, representatives from the club visited local primary schools on a recruitment drive. Raising awareness is another cog in the wheel for Tralee. And with their ambitious development plans due for completion in 2018, the club is on a sound footing for the future.