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It’s certainly a talking point in the clubhouse. But should it even be a discussion?
Surely we should be encouraging youngsters to take up the game and doing everything we can to make them feel welcome in the golf club environment?
However some adult members think their club competitions should be for adult members only and would get quite annoyed at junior walking away with one of the top prizes.
Members of the team at National Club Golfer give their views…
Mark Townsend: It’s so long ago that I can’t actually remember what was going on in the mid 80s at my club. I seem to recall single-figure juniors being able to enter the ‘board’ competitions which seems about right. I would let any junior play in any competition but would probably draw the line at letting someone whose handicap is no reflection of their ability win the ‘big ones’.
Dan Murphy: If juniors are playing off the same tees and using the same handicapping system then they can play in any comp they want just like anyone else as far as I’m concerned. If they win a couple of big ones and get pulled then good luck to them and they will soon have a much lower handicap. The last thing we should be doing is making it difficult for kids to make the transition from playing with their mates to becoming fully fledged long-term club members and hopefully representing the club with distinction over the coming years and decades. I can’t abide the whinging that goes on from certain sections of golf club memberships about things like this.
Tom Irwin: Juniors at golf clubs should be treated like royalty. Free lessons, discounted memberships, full playing rights, proper off course facilities, discounted kit. What possible reason is there to stop a junior playing in a men’s comp? If they win because they are improving quickly then brilliant, what an amazing boost for them, and who is it annoying? Some small-minded minority who cannot see past the end of their collection of bad crystal? I will take giving the juniors a reason to get hooked any day.
Tom Lenton: It’s easy to see why a junior off 36 with a real handicap of 15 winning a board comp can upset people though? The adults are paying over a grand and retention and increasing these membership numbers is a golf clubs main priority.
Tom Irwin: In what world is declining participation ever attributed to ‘too many juniors winning competitions’? – That is not a thing.
If you are going to make a participation argument relevant to this debate, it is attitudes like ‘no juniors in club comps’ that is the participation problem. People think golf is played by smaller minded, pompous people and if that is a prevalent view then unfortunately they are correct.
Tom Lenton: Whether it is right or wrong, priority will always be with adult seven-day members, fact. Initiatives where an adult joins and they get a junior membership free is the way to go. Juniors can play in all board competitions, but they aren’t competing for the board prize, they get the junior prize within that competition. They are still part of a great day’s competition at the club and a good is had by all.
Mark Townsend: What about the scratch prize? Don’t suppose anyone could have any problem with juniors winning that.
Tom Lenton: If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
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