The BGA has promoted extensive training programs over the past five to seven years at considerable expense, but the young players have not been coming through. Why? It’s not for lack of financial support: the BGA has always taken up the scholarships offered by Royal Westmoreland, has financially assisted with juniors playing in local and international events, and, generally, has facilitated juniors at the entry level with subsidized coaching and playing privileges at BGC. In fact, juniors registered in the BGA junior program do not pay greens fees at BGC. Junior tournaments organized by the BGA are free of cost at the Old Nine as well. Yet, there are very few juniors playing golf seriously, and by seriously, I mean because they have a love for the game and wish to learn how to play it to the best of their ability.
So, it’s not a lack of financial assistance; it’s not a lack of facilities; it’s not a lack of coaching. Why are our juniors not playing?
Is it because we are not bringing them together to play the game in a competitive environment? That’s certainly one of the ingredients that is missing. Who is the Barbados Junior Champion 2014? When last was there a Barbados Junior Championship? There is a huge gap between teaching and learning. Ask my teachers at Lodge School. They taught me everything they knew – and I learned nothing! There is only one way to learn how to play a game and that is by playing it, not by going to lessons once a week and leaving the clubs at home until the next lesson.
This leads me to the Order of Merit system of recognition. Hopefully, this experiment will give our kids an opportunity to play and bond with others who share similar aspirations. The rewards of being at the top of the individual age/gender categories will be earning the Barbados colors at the Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championships! And from there, who knows?
This is a first step and I am confident that it is a step in the right direction. This is a platform for sustainable improvement.
I wish to make one last point. I have never seen a young golfer reach full potential without parental/family support. This is a team effort – we all have to play our part, including parents, teaching pros, sponsors, partner golf clubs, and the players. The BGA can only facilitate what is financially sustainable in the context of a voluntary association; it cannot make our juniors better than they are without the juniors wishing to play better golf, being eager to learn the game of golf!
BGA Ordinary Member responsible for Junior Golf.
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