One thousand primary schoolchildren from Dorset are expected to take part in ‘The Big Swing’ this Friday (20 April) – showing off their new golf skills in an event that is likely to be a UK record.
The Big Swing, held at Canford Park, Wimborne, is believed to be the biggest ever golf event of its kind for children in the UK. It is the pinnacle of the area’s ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ project, a national initiative run by the Golf Foundation, the leading golf charity that aims to make golf more accessible to children from all backgrounds and circumstances.
While the accent for the day is on fun, teams of 10 children will all be trying their best to win The Big Swing for their school. “The whole idea about The Big Swing is for all these boys and girls to have great fun and get a further taste of what golf has to offer,” said Golf Foundation Regional Development Officer Sam Stephens.
“Golf can be for everyone and is a great sport for youngsters as it promotes life skills like honesty, integrity, co-operation and perseverance. There is also a competitive edge to The Big Swing which makes it exciting, but we aim to ensure that every one of the thousand boys and girls has a great experience.”
The Big Swing project has provided a first introduction to golf for children all over the Dorset school area and has involved 36 schools with training for many teachers. Youngsters have been enjoying the easy-to-play golf format called ‘Tri-Golf’ during their PE lessons and after-school clubs. Canford Magna Golf Club has been a strong supporter and the club’s PGA Professional Darren Stratman, the founder of The Big Swing, has been regularly coaching youngsters in the schools. A number of teachers have been so inspired they are sending a whole year of teams along for the day.
Darren has also been training some 200 Young Leaders to help on Friday; 14-17 year-olds who will gain valuable experience as volunteers as they mentor the young children in their games. The leaders will oversee eight-game competitions between schools and the two winning teams of ten children will go forward to Dorset’s ‘School Games’ finals in June, held in Bournemouth to coincide with the arrival in London of the Olympic Torch.
PGA Professional Darren Stratman said: “This is the third year of The Big Swing and we have been amazed at how local schools have got behind this. Last year we had 550 youngsters playing and there was clearly a demand then to create even more opportunity for boys and girls of all abilities. This year we believe we will reach 1,000 youngsters which will be a UK and possibly world record!”
He added: “The great thing about the event is it can mix easily really exciting school competition with the fun format Tri-Golf, which so many youngsters can enjoy. We have been thrilled to introduce many new children to golf and to train so many volunteers who we believe will also gain much from the experience.”
A group of Bournemouth University students is also helping Darren during the project, as part of their Golf Management studies course work.
Darren revealed that World Trick Shot Champion Geoff Swain will also be showing off some of his best tricks for all the youngsters present on Friday. Darren added: “It is great that Geoff can help us on the day and I’d also like to thank Canford Magna Golf Club for their support in enabling me to put this event together with the excellent support of Sam Stephens and the Golf Foundation.”
The Golf Foundation is aiming to reach one million children per year through its national programme, HSBC Golf Roots. To achieve this, it has a fundraising target of £3 million per year. HSBC Golf Roots is already supported by The R&A, The European Tour, the Professional Golfers’ Association, the Ryder Cup Committee and Trust, the British Golf Industry Association’s ‘Grow Golf’ Fund, Sport England and headline sponsor HSBC, who collectively contribute just under £2 million.
* To learn more about The Big Swing, go to www.bigswing.co.uk
* To learn more about HSBC Golf Roots and the Golf Foundation call 01992 449830 or see www.golf-foundation.org
* For media information on the Golf Foundation, call Ben Evans on 01747 820384 or 07789 722853.
Notes for editors:
* The Golf Foundation is a British Isles charity dedicated to bringing more young people into the sport.
* The Golf Foundation is committed to developing the sport at the junior level by supporting the implementation of national development plans and by working in partnership with the golfing bodies in England, Wales and Scotland.
* Each year more than 750,000 children across the British Isles benefit from the initiatives and resources available through the Golf Foundation.