We don’t need an army of golf experts to tell us we are no longer in the Tiger Woods era. Not when a group of youngsters who have never so much as touched a club can convey the message loud and clear. The juniors are gathered together for a one-hour Introduction to Golf clinic on the bottom deck of Abu Dhabi City Golf Club’s two-tier driving range. “Can any of you name a famous golfer?” asks Dave Taylor, one of the club’s teaching professionals who is spearheading this free coaching drive to get more kids into golf.
Several hands shoot up, and we brace ourselves for the T-word. “Bubba Watson,” announces a six-year-old boy proudly. “Rickie Fowler!” declares another. “Rory…” another voice tails off , as the party’s golfing knowledge appears to have been exhausted.
It’s a sign of how things in the world of golf have moved on, but also for the kids who took part, an exciting moment in which their journey is just beginning. Abu Dhabi City Golf Club calls itself the People’s Club for a reason, and the team here have spent years dedicating themselves to growing the game at a facility that is tailor made for it. Led by club manager Rhian Lobo and head professional Steve Johns, club pros Taylor and Tom Wraight launched a one-week program of free coaching that ultimately attracted over 100 kids, many of whom were completely new to the game.
“It was basically just an opportunity for kids who have never seen or tried golf before to come down and see what it’s all about,” explains Taylor. “It’s exciting to see youngsters from all over the world signing up for our Junior School, and hopefully we can convert them into keen young golfers.”
It’s one thing to introduce children to the game; quite another to get them hooked. So how do Wraight and Taylor go about ensuring that the hour of coaching spawns a new generation of golf enthusiasts? “We’ve got to try and make it fun, and accessible. Golf is addictive, and if you can approach it in a fairly lighthearted manner, with lots of silly shots and fun demos. Most of the kids that we meet seem to really enjoy the experience.”
For more information on Abu Dhabi City Golf Club’s Junior Coaching Programs, contact the club on +971 2 445 9600 or email [email protected]
Photographs by Kristina Nabieva