Tralee a driv­ing force for young golfers

Irish Examiner - Sport - - GOLF -

Bring­ing in young play­ers is some­thing ev­ery golf club has to work at, with the num­bers show­ing an age­ing mem­ber­ship across the sport. But pos­i­tive ex­am­ples of the work be­ing done abound, with one clear ex­am­ple in Tralee, Co Kerry, where ev­ery ef­fort is be­ing made to nur­ture the play­ers of to­mor­row.

For the grow­ing band of ju­niors learn­ing to play the game, the Kerry links is fast be­com­ing a dream academy.

Those too young to tackle the cham­pi­onship course get their first taste of golf on the club’s five­hole academy course. Next year, the club plans to have com­pleted work on a par-three course, de­signed by Martin Hawtree, fea­tur­ing six holes, the long­est of which will mea­sure 200 yards. This ad­di­tion will pro­vide an in­ter­me­di­ate step for play­ers as they learn.

“By the time they hit the main course, they’ll be ready for it,” says Cather­ine Mccarthy, Tralee’s ju­nior con­venor.

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 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the club have also vis­ited lo­cal pri­mary schools on a re­cruit­ment drive.

While Tralee en­joys great pop­u­lar­ity with vis­i­tors, par­tic­u­larly from the US, and reaps the ben­e­fit of the in­come, it is good to see real com­mit­ment to keep­ing new blood com­ing through at the club. While many clubs will be un­able to in­vest in their fa­cil­i­ties to that ex­tent, pro­mot­ing the game and en­cour­ag­ing young play­ers is key to se­cur­ing golf’s fu­ture.

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