Golf; whether it’s too boring, too slow, too posh or just designed for old people; a lot of young people have their reservations. But, pick up a club, and you might just be proven wrong.
With golf tuition being rather pricey, not hugely accessible and the general enthusiasm of the sport on the decline, the Up To Scratch Challenge at Leeds Golf Centre aims to change that. A seven week long crash course to learn all aspects of the game, aims to give you the skills and confidence to take it up and the best part is, you don’t have to reach for a single penny to pay for it!
The organisers for the course very kindly invited me along to one of their sessions, upon which I was able to learn how to pitch. It was the 8th session of the course, so many of the participants had already got to know each other therefore it was a nice environment to walk into. However, as I had not properly played golf or been shown how to hit a ball properly, I was slightly worried I’d be shown up!
One of the organisers, Ellie was able to show me the ropes and before I knew it, I was able to pitch balls all over the shop! The hour long session was, overall lots of fun and with it being light hearted and non-coerce, it made it a lot more enjoyable for everybody. It finished with a little competition to see who could pitch the ball closest to a target. Despite me not coming close to winning, it was nice to get a little competitive.
At the end of the session I talked to one of the instructors Ellie and I initially asked who set up the challenge and why?
“Joe Feather was the creator or the ‘Up to Scratch Challenge’, he was the ideas man behind it, he put a lot of planning into it. It’s an eight week course to get more people going from, first starting with putting all the way up to getting out on the course. He came up with the idea to broaden people’s minds and get a lot more people into golf was dying out a bit, we are trying to make it more trendy, a little more accessible for people so it widens the range of people that can come.”
When comparing to more traditional private club tuition, the challenge has a different offering but does the difference provide beginners a decent alternative?
“I think it makes it a bit more fun because you’re in a group”. She went on to say. “We have a good laugh as coaches, you can play off against each other and it’s a great way to meet new people, so individual lessons if you’re a beginner you don’t know anyone else at a golf club so that could be quite difficult so bringing sixteen together, if they go on and take it away together, then they’ve got someone to play with so it’ll keep them in the game longer”.
After the huge success of the ‘Up to Scratch Challenge last year, have they made any changes to the format to change it up a bit?
“No we’ve kept it the same format because it was so successful last year, we’ve had quite a few [participants] that have kept up the game. It definitely opens people’s eyes to what you can do with the game so we haven’t felt like we’ve needed to change the set up as such. This year we’ve had double the amount of entries so I think it’s made a good name for itself already.”
The ‘Up to Scratch Challenge has been vastly successful and popular during the first two years and is only going to get bigger and more successful year upon year; but has anyone who’s participated gone on to a bigger level already?
“Well with it only being a year, we haven’t had that time for them to grow into golfers but we’ve had a guy, Joe Dixon who’s now a member, he won it [the ‘Up to Scratch Challenge’] last year, he’s got his handicap and is playing every week with the members and getting to know them, he’s practicing all the time and having lessons so he’s really taken it on board and we are seeing a lot of the other guys and girls just coming up the par 3, bringing families up so I think it’s been a good success”
From my own, albeit little, experience on the course, the ‘Up to Scratch challenge is a great way for any boy or girl, young or old, to learn how to play a pretty fun sport. You’ll have the chance to learn from great instructors, meet new friends and hopefully by the end of it, have a new found confidence to get a membership at your local club, and hit the fairways.
Thanks to Leeds Golf Centre for a great session – if you want to learn more about their Up To Scratch Challenge and everything in between then head to their website: leedsgolfcentre.com