A LOTHIANS golf club has halved its membership fee for young golfers and is hoping the decision will eventually lead to the creation of a new junior academy.
Bosses at Deer Park Golf & Country Club at Livingston launched the youth drive after discovering it didn't have the depth of juniors you'd expect from a club which prides itself on its family orientation. In addition to the membership fee for eight to 13-year-olds having been reduced to £89, the club has also started offering clubgolf coaching and is developing a short course for juniors.
"Kids have always been keen to play here but it was too expensive and we were becoming a feeder for other clubs," said head pro Sandy Strachan.
"That's fine for getting kids into golf but we weren't seeing the benefit. So reducing the membership has really given us the opportunity to get active and get kids in."
Strachan, who moved to Deer Park from nearby Bathgate two years ago, added: "My aim was to get the membership fee right then make a heavy push on the coaching and build a junior section."
As is the case all over Scotland, P5 pupils in West Lothian are being introduced to the game through the clubgolf initiative and Strachan is keen to offer a continuation of that programme.
"We have been working with clubgolf and Active Schools to get the message out to local schools and the potential for children to come here for coaching is massive," he said.
"I'm doing the teaching because I feel that by catching children straight away I can nurture them from there and make sure they are going to be good junior members.
"I have got my Stage 3 (clubgolf] qualification, as has John Murray who joined us from Turnhouse, so we can take the children right through the levels to the advanced stages.
"We are obviously at the start but what we are working towards is to create a Deer Park Junior Academy where you we take in children from a very young age and coach them right through to Scottish level and hopefully even professional."