Youth prefer playing golf on consoles as local clubs struggle to recruit

By Matthew Beedle

Pontefract and District golf club are in the process of overhauling their junior set-up as they struggle to put a full team together for 2017.

As recently as five years ago, Pontefract had a thriving junior team, with some representing the Leeds and District on a regular basis. Now, Pontefract don’t have enough juniors to compete, fielding a team of two, when four are required.

A study by the European Tour may suggests why Pontefract are having problems with numbers. Their study found that the same number of juniors (aged 6-17) play golf console games than juniors who actually play one round of golf a year.

This is a finding that worries assistant professional Steve Clancy. He said: “When I teach in schools I ask if the kids know any golfers, a few know who Tiger Woods is but majority say they thought it that was a game.”

Clancy is looking towards the future for the club, offering golfing camps and sessions in order to get juniors interested in golf. Next year he plans to focus on juniors aged 10 to 17, believes it is a crucial age group due to lifestyle changes.

He said: “People’s lifestyles change so they have less free time on their hands to be able to play golf as it takes up a lot of time.”

However, another problem that juniors face is the intimidation they feel from older members. Clancy said: “You still get comments about older juniors from other members who have been here a while.”

Club manager Malcolm Huddlestone recalled when he joined as a young member. He said: “When I joined you felt you were stepping on people’s toes, so we look at trying to give juniors their own space so they don’t feel intimidated.”

Pontefract will be looking to add to their roster of juniors over the winter or else they face not fielding a full team causing them to potentially cancel matches.

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