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Youngsters teed up for golf

A 'record high' of nearly 40,000 Scottish Primary 5 children have been introduced to golf for the first time through the Government funded clubgolf initiative, it was announced today.

Speaking at the Open Championship in Turnberry, First Minister Alex Salmond announced the significant increase in the number of youngsters taking to the fairways in Scotland, the home of golf, as he joined Sam Torrance and young golfers benefitting from the national junior programme, clubgolf, on the Homecoming putting green today.

Already, this year 38,784 P5 pupils have been introduced to the game through firstclubgolf, clubgolf's introductory game which uses modified equipment to give children a taste of the sport in school. This figure is 71 per cent of the total number of P5s in Scotland and represents an increase of 15 per cent over last year's participation figures.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Scotland is undoubtedly the home of golf. It is only right that we do all we can to help introduce young people to the great game and encourage greater participation.

"Scotland's golf clubs and facilities are helping to provide the ideal environment for juniors to flourish. And where better to announce that we now have nearly 40,000 P5 schoolchildren playing golf than here, at The Open Championship in Turnberry, with the world's eyes upon us.

"Scotland has 289 venues across the country working with children and young people through clubgolf. This bodes well for the future of the game at club level.

"An increasing number of golf professionals are delivering the national junior programme and they have teamed up with a workforce of qualified volunteer coaches that now numbers more than 1,500. Between them they will deliver clubgolf coaching to around 10,000 children in clubs this summer.

"I have high hopes that many of these youngsters will return to future Championships as key contenders for the Claret Jug."

Hamish Grey, Scottish Golf Union (SGU) Chief Executive and clubgolf Board member said: "As an integral part of the SGU and SLGA's coaching programme clubgolf is continuing to make significant progress, enabling more youngsters than ever before to play the game.

"By giving children an early introduction to the game, clubgolf is helping to expand the base of players by making golf more accessible than ever before. Offering structured coaching at every level will lead to an improvement in playing standards, with the long term goal of stimulating a lifelong interest in the game."

Launched in 2003, following Scotland's successful bid to host the 2014 Ryder Cup, clubgolf has been developed as a direct result of the Scottish Government's commitment to introduce every nine-year-old child to golf.

Clubgolf is a partnership between the Scottish Golf Union, the Scottish Ladies' Golfing Association, the Professional Golfers' Association, the Golf Foundation and sportscotland.

Source: Scottish Government, Wednesday, 15 July, 2009