The sad truth about the Ryder Cup

European team

victorious team

I have been coaching this week as I do most weeks and I was so excited about the Ryder Cup, thinking about all the iconic moments it’s provided and all the drama. it’s sport at its best, it’s golf at its very best and it’s sportsmanship in every sense of the word.

Thinking of Seve always brings a tear to my eye, of Christy, Sam, Padraig, Ollie’s dance and Leonard’s putt at Brookline. Great moments in golf and sports history, the way the tournament has developed over the past 30 years has been amazing.

So why is it sad? None of the kids I teach will be watching it live this week because they don’t have Sky or Sky sports. You cannot capture the action in a 1 hour highlights programme and it’s such a shame. We can only imaging just how many kids would have been inspired to give golf a go or practice like mad so they could hit the winning shot just like Jamie Donaldson’s just done.

I only really realised last winter when i was playing some golf videos to the class, that many had never actually seen tournament play on the telly or watched the top guys playing the game and the highest levels. There was no frame of reference for these youngsters apart from my pitiful efforts to show them a good swing.

Lack of golf on terrestrial TV means we as golf coaches have to try harder and work harder at getting more kids into the game, so they will be watching Ryder Cups of the future in golf club houses or at a friends house, the one who has the sports subscription paid.

Golf coaches MUST lead the way

I came into professional golf 30 years ago, in the 80’s the job was very different to what it is today. Retail was strong, members supported their pro and it was a prestigious position to hold at any golf club. I had a great time as an assistant, busy teaching, playing and running the shop as well as repairing and refurbishing clubs. I couldn’t wait to get my own shop at a club and enjoy the rest of my working days being the best club pro I could be.

I got my chance in the early 90’s and that’s when things started to change dramatically. Boom and bust in the economy, the internet and online shopping and golf companies deciding who they would send their stock to. Within a very short space of time, the humble club pro was facing a very different future, a not so lucrative one and one with very little job security.

The profession has changed and the game itself has been in decline for the past 20 years. The industry has spent the last 20 years having meetings about it, but the slide continues and the reasons continue to grow. Less golf on terrestrial TV, too expensive, elitist, sexist, a game for older people, too time-consuming, less recreation time, too difficult, or a combination of all these factors.

The pro was the hub of the golf club wheel, giving the members lessons, running their competitions, attending functions and representing the club in tournaments and pro – ams. Possibly the most important role was introducing new players to the game and encouraging them to join the club.

It’s a new ball game now, to coin a phrase. Golfers are no longer obliged to be a member of a club and have a handicap if they wish to play other courses. For years the answer to diminishing memberships was to raise the fees, there was always the security blanket of the waiting list anyway. Now joining fees have mostly gone, green fees can be readily purchased on a 2 for 1 basis and clubs are advertising for members in their local press.

All of this is encapsulated in this video report and apart from a 15″ hole or we all start kicking the ball around, there are very few real solutions on the table.

The golf pro MUST step forward and take responsibility for growing the game or many will go the way of ‘Dicks Sporting Goods’ employees, into other jobs and professions.

The golf pro MUST go out from behind the counter and into local communities to bring people to the game, using soft golf in schools and at local functions, they must promote themselves and the game.

The golf pro MUST recruit and educate large numbers of new players, not hide behind a computer screen and launch monitor, working with elite performers, massaging both their egos in the process.

The golf pro MUST work with kids, yes I’m afraid so, not easy for many, must work with kids and parents to open the game and their clubs up to the most vibrant sector of the market.

What happens in June?

Marketing, admin and lesson packs

Your personalised marketing materials are waiting

I don’t want to be cynical but…

That has to be the worst introduction to any article and I really don’t want to put a dampener on things and I am sure the National Golf Month, the  ‘Learn to play in May’ campaign will be a massive success according to all the articles that are possibly already written and ready to go. I hope all the free lessons and hours of time and effort pay off for all the coaches that have put themselves out there.

BUT – What happens in June?

I have been there, i have done hundreds of ‘taster’, ‘freebies’ and ‘fun’ events and they’re brilliant for garnering interest and getting to reach a new clientele. The most important thing is planning the event and being prepared. Having marketing materials and sign up forms there and then, having a follow-on activity already in place with dates and times. You need to have a structured programme to ‘plug’ people into. It’s what they want and nowadays it’s what they expect.

If you are part of the National Golf Month or holding any form of recruitment and publicity activities, you must have your Bitesize Golf flyers and brochures printed and ready to hand out. Your success rate, your conversion rate will be massively higher, your work is done for you and you will have your classes up and running in one hit.

Contact us for your marketing materials, if you haven’t done so already, they can be with you in a day or two and you’re all set to find and more importantly keep your new clients.

It worked like magic

Watching videos of tour players

Imprinting great golf swings from top players

How do kids learn. They watch and they copy, that’s why I always do a demonstration or ‘demonsteration’ as we call it during the lessons. That’s why I try and break things down to frame by frame, so they can see what i’m trying to get them to do. Recently I collected a few swings of top players in super slow-motion on my laptop and played them to my classes.

The outcome was incredible, it was like switching on a light switch with just about all the kids. I couldn’t believe the improvement and nor could some of the parents. Talk about an ‘Ah Ha’, ‘Eureka’, moment. They simply imprinted the timing, balance, set up and rhythm of what they’d seen and replayed it almost to perfection.

watching video 2

watching video 3

It was almost as simple as copy and paste the golf swing, I have been coaching youngsters for many years and seen this ‘light bulb’ moment before but not on this scale.

Accelerated learning, absolutely, more to come.

Join me and Bitesize Golf as a coach by registering here >> http://www.bitesizegolf.com/1_pages/register_coaches.html

 

13 years practising kicking a ball

Each golf club should have 50 junior members and at least 25 in an academy

Each golf club should have 50 junior members and at least 25 in an academy

It struck me the other day, my son, who has just had his 18th birthday, was off to football training. He started playing the game when he was 5 and joined an Under 6 team, he’s played in teams ever since as well as playing for the school teams and district leagues. He’s had training with all of them for all of these years.

Then I thought about golf, you might well argue, a slightly more technical game when it comes to playing at the highest level. Yet most junior golf coaching starts and ends with a few roll up sessions, take it or leave it. How many golf coaches offer a complete structured development programme for their junior members. one that lasts for years?

I look across the football fields at the weekend and see hundreds of kids tapping a football along or throwing a rugby ball to their friends. I pass a golf club and I just don’t see it, there may be a golfing parent out with their youngster, but I don’t see a coach needing a sports leader’s help because the classes are too large.

Courses are closing, coaches are losing their jobs and the demographics of the game are showing an older population. For the past 20 years I have been jumping up and down, waving about, trying to explain to the bodies, unions and associations what’s happening and what should be done. How far does the thing have to slide, it’s gone past sad, beyond desperate and is now fast approaching chronic.

We’ve blamed the weather, kids migrating to rugby because England won the World Cup, cricket because they won the Ashes and tennis because of Andy Murray. We’ve blamed the economy since 2008 and the Olympics for the past 4 years. When will someone take responsibility, when will someone have the golf balls to actually say the game’s youth policy is not and does not work?

A lot of other sports addressed the issue and opened themselves up to the family market, golf is the ultimate family sport, yet who knows, who cares and who’s doing anything about it?

In my humble opinion, blame could be shared, but that’s not going to help anyone or change anything. Who’s responsibility is it for growing the game, for coaching junior specialised junior coaches and putting together a national development programme. No ones and that’s a big part of the problem, so until there’s a department in one of the great halls of the directorship of the game, I will keep doing as much as one person can. One coach at a time.

Join Bitesize Golf if you want to make a difference >> Click here to register

Follow the blog by clicking below or please share your thoughts, I am confident the sentiments will get stronger as the years progress.

The Tool Box

tool box items

What’s in this Tool Box?

Once you’ve registered, you can request access to your own custom, tailor made Bitesize Golf toolbox. This will provide you with everything you could possibly need to create and build your Bitesize Golf Academy.

(1) You will get personalised promotional and marketing materials…

Posters, Flyers and brochures

(2) You will get the nuts and bolts that hold everything together, the admin materials…

Payment forms, dates and times forms, registration forms, medical forms and more

(3) You will get the magic ingredients that will ensure your success and potentially generate you the greatest ROI in your entire business.

Lesson plans, challenges, report templates, drills, skills, games and more.

All you have to do is request your marketing pack (1) and this and your admin pack (2) will be delivered to you digitally. Your lesson pack (3) will be provided upon receipt of your first order.

R and A, Working for Golf in Central America

David Gosling, Founder of Bitesize Golf Ltd has just completed another week of intensive coaching seminars in Costa Rica. This is his 4th visit to the country, but this time he was accompanied by Johan Hampf, Head of Education and Vice CEO for the Swedish PGA.

For a very full 5 days, they presented a vast amount of information regarding advanced coaching techniques to over 35 golf coaches from all over Central America. The seminars included exercises in ball flight dynamics, communication skills and specialised knowledge relating to coaching all abilities of junior golfers.

The event was hosted by the Costa Rican Golf Federation, ANAGOLF who have been working closely with David and the R and A for several years. The game of golf is going from strength to strength with the skills of the coaches increasing, the number of players increasing and new golf courses being built.

It was a fantastic week and everyone got so much out of it, the commitment to learning from the coaches is incredible. Many were teaching at 5.00 and 6.00 in the morning so they were able to attend the seminars. Others travelled for many hours to be there, such is their passion for coaching the game in their country.

Advanced coaching techniques for junior players

Advanced coaching techniques for junior players

Group picture of all the attendees.

Group picture of all the attendees.

Presenting the complexities of golf ball flight

Presenting the complexities of golf ball flight

What if? There was a better way to coach kids in golf

There are golf clubs out there with little or no structured junior programme, there are clubs and coaches who leave the junior coaching to the least experienced junior assistant and there are clubs and coaches who think coaching kids is the last thing they want to do.

What if they approached the topic from another viewpoint?

What if there was a system that provided them with all the tools and knowledge they need to develop a professionally run junior academy?

What if they were to realise that this section of the population would return a higher income and profit to their retail businesses and the golf club than any other?

Having spent decades focussing on these dilemmas and working on providing solutions, it is time there was a distinct shift in these attitudes. There are many coaches hurting under the current economic conditions, the internet has long been undermining retail sales and the general public is rapidly changing their golfing habits. Memberships are in decline because you no longer have to be a ‘member’ to obtain a handicap and you don’t really need a handicap to play many other courses.

Every single year, there’s a new generation of young golfer waiting to be introduced to the game, but what does the game really do to capture their interest and ensure it becomes one of their sporting passions? You might shout out that it provides free golf in schools, or free golf lessons here or there and open days a plenty. That’s great, it’s been this way for years and years, these initiatives might create some interest, but it’s what happens after that counts.

Think about other sports, a child that starts playing football in the Under 7’s team knows there are teams all the way up to Under 17’s. A child that earns a 25 metre swim badge knows there’s a 50 metre one, a 100 metre one and so on. It’s the same with martial arts and almost every other structured sport you can think of. Now, there’s one for golf, Bitesize Golf is the pathway for youngsters wanting to ‘get into golf’, it’s not only the ‘passport’ it’s their play ‘visa’ enabling them to enjoy a lifetime of great golf.

But why has this never been done before?

It’s a great question and the answer may lie in the fact that it’s nobodies responsibility to do it. Each Union, Body, Federation and Association have remits that look after many various sectors of the game and they do this brilliantly. They even fund many of the aforementioned initiatives and annual one-off open ended events, which is great. The fact is, there has to be an exit strategy, somewhere for these new players to be plugged in to, or they will be gone and lost forever.

The latest pledge in the Golf Foundation’s manifesto is to introduce 1,000,000 children to golf per year! Wow! that’s fantastic, this is exactly why golf coaches should have a structure and the best tools to be able to keep a high percentage of these kids in the game.

Please leave a comment and let’s explore what all this might mean for the game, the industry, your business and most importantly the new generation of players.

Thousands of kids want to play golf.

Thousands of kids want to play golf.

 

 

10 steps to create an incredible junior golf academy

Enjoy this 2 minute video, it shows golf coaches how easy it is to get up and running with building a quality junior development programme that will last for years.

If you want to know more please get in touch.

The EZGO Tour 2013 Final round

After a great summer of beautiful weather and great golf, the final of the EZGO Tour was played at Canons Court near Wotton – Under – Edge in Gloucestershire.

Over 30 young players competed in this final round, which was an outstanding success and enjoyed by all. There has been some stunning golf played by all competitors in all age groups, but more importantly the display of good behaviour, etiquette and sportsmanship has been exemplary.

Well done to all competitors and massive thanks to all the clubs in Gloucestershire that supported and welcomed the events, we look forward to the event growing in years to come.

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