Golf's grass roots would not be the same without its volunteers...
How Volunteers Are Helping To Shape The Game Of Golf
Abbas Merali, a member at Batchworth Park GC in Hertfordshire, realised golf could be a hit with a local community group he helps to run.
The group, Stanmore Jafferys, encourages and enables sports participation among the Muslim community.
Merali teamed up with PGA pro Harriet Key to organise junior golf camps in the school holidays, which proved so popular that the mums wanted to have a go.
“We set-up some ‘Learn to Play’ groups specifically for Muslim women,” explains Key, who started giving Merali golf lessons five years ago.
“For Muslim women to learn golf they have to have a female coach. I try to make the sessions enjoyable, not too intense, and as welcoming as possible, because starting out in golf can be a little bit daunting.
“We wanted to show that golf is not an elitist activity and the other thing is to have a pathway for them, something to progress to, which will be an improvers programme, and then they can work towards club membership.”
The initiative of one volunteer, combined with the energy and expertise of one PGA pro, is having a significant impact.
Related: How to become a PGA Professional
“We now run three weekly groups, meaning 24 local Muslim women are learning to play golf,” adds Key.
“We are going to set up more groups because demand has been so high. We have another 20 women interested, all from Stanmore Jafferys.”
Taking the game to a new audience is one of many roles volunteers can fulfil.
Club volunteers can always find a role that fits into their routine, taps into their skills or that even help people develop new skills, whether it be organising junior sections, staging social events or managing facilities.
In 2020 the PGA launched the Club Volunteer programme as part of its 2020 Vision to support volunteers at golf clubs with training and development.
The programme covers topics such as health and safety legislation, safeguarding, club marketing and finance.
At Muswell Hill GC in north London, assistant PGA pro Samantha Kang has recruited club members to support the club’s thriving junior activities.
“Our adult volunteers take the juniors out on the course for four holes on a weekday afternoon,” starts Kang.
“These volunteers help the juniors learn how to manage their game on the course.
“We also get the 14 and 15-year-old juniors to help out with the younger kids in the group sessions.”
Some of the most dedicated volunteers come out of the junior sections themselves, like 16-year-old Max Neville at Worldham GC in Hampshire.
“Golf pros cannot run junior academies on their own. They need help,” starts Andrew Simmonds of Orbis Golf, who developed the academy at Worldham GC.
“Our primary volunteer at Worldham is Max Neville, who is 16.
“He was part of the academy, progressed well as a golfer and now he helps at the golf camps and with our out-reach activities.
“He helps run our games-based sessions and he marks the cards of the younger kids as they come through. He has become something of an ambassador.
“Max is someone for the others kids to look up to and someone they can relate to.”
Great work, Max!
Related: 10 things PGA Pros are talking about