Sporting changes

22nd June 2001 at 01:00
Yolanda Brooks on kits that help to introduce games which don't usually feature on the school timetable.

When Wimbledon rolls around each summer, there is usually much impassioned discussion about the shortage of home-grown contenders.

And when the English football team puts in an uncertain performance in a World Cup qualifying match, the radio phone-in lines buzz with discontent.

Yet when Tiger Woods rewrites the history books there is barely a squeak about the lack of British challengers. While people yearn for world class competitors in tennis, football,cricket or athletics, it seems that they are not too bothered about golf.

But the Golf Foundation cares. It has developed the game of Tri Golf to encourage primary children into a game that, Woods apart, has a sedate middle-aged image. "We've had Quick Cricket and Short Tennis and it was about time something happened with golf," said Stuart Armstrong, the national development manager for the Golf Foundation.

While other sports have the advantage of being taught at school, golf has struggled to gain a foothold. Of those young people who play, most take up the game long after they have left primary school and often do so because their parents play. There is also the issue of practicality. Young children swingin metal clubs around while trying to hit hard balls would soon become a health and safety issue in a primary school. With Tri Golf, these problems are overcome. After scouting around for equipment, members of the Golf Foundation designed a prototype set. The set costs pound;149.99 and includes foam balls, plastic irons and putters with over-sized club heads; there are activities and ideas for games and developing specific skills.

The best thing about Tri Golf from a teaching point of view is that you don't need to be a scratch golfer to use the set. "Anyone can pick up the game, whether they are a golfer or non-golfer," says Stuart Armstrong. It's less about getting the ball in the hole, he says, and more about learning the basic skills before moving on to the real thing. "Tri Golf is about playing games which let children learn the skills and emulate Tiger Woods in their own way."

Schools don't need huge amounts of space to play the game. They can set it up in the playground or even indoors. The game is flexible and teachers and pupils can devise their own courses and choose which of the Tri Golf games they want to play. Although teachers don't need any specific expertise, those that are interested in taking the game further can take pound;10 Tri Golf courses run by the foundation.

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