A FORMER League of Ireland footballer, Strabane Golf Club captain Brian Brolly is spearheading an initiative aimed at getting more young people to take up the game of golf.
The ex-Monaghan Town midfielder intends to tackle the issue of declining numbers among the younger breed and with the help of his team hopes to sow the seeds of a new generation.
The captain said that in the coming season there would be a real drive towards selling the game to the young at heart, with a particular emphasis on increased female participation.
“We have a grant application with Derry City and Strabane District Council at the minute for a project that we are planning for the summer months,” revealed the IT consultant.
“It’s a ‘Get Into Golf’ project. We’ll have to fund a good part of it ourselves but we are planning to purchase 25 to 30 sets of clubs for juniors, both boys and girls.
“We will be providing lessons throughout the summer months with the help of a local PGA professional.
“We are quite aware golf is not a cheap sport to get into. Our aim is to try and take the initial cost out of it, to make the sport more accessible to the whole community. We’ll be pushing hard on that.
“We have a good junior committee. Junior convenor Freddie Patterson has done sterling work over the years with the juniors but we have noticed a decline in numbers recently particularly among the number of girls now playing.
“In general this has been the case in that there are less ladies playing golf.
“Girls are massively under represented in the club so were are trying to promote that as much as possible.
“We intend to put a lot of work into this. We will be presenting workshops in the local schools over the coming months to encourage involvement in the project. Maybe we’ll get a few high performers out of that to join the golf academy and develop them from that.
“It’s something we have talked about in the various committees before. The sport is not reinforced at school level as much as perhaps it should be.
“We feel the image of golf is still one of an older man’s sport and that is possibly reflected in the drop in numbers that we have experienced with the junior section.”
Brian’s first official engagement will be the Captains’ Drive-In which has been pencilled in for Sunday, March 13 with the first major competition of the season, The John Kelly Open, teeing off on Saturday March 26.
The captain is relishing another highly-competitive season at Strabane and harbours high hopes for the various teams in the provincial and national club competitions.
“We are really looking forward to our participation in the various cup and shield competitions this year,” continued Brian.
“We feel we have some very strong teams, there are a lot of talented golfers about Strabane at the minute.
“One of our teams, the Jimmy Bruen team were Ulster champions in 2015 and got to the All Ireland finals at Carton House where they were beaten semi-finalists.
“The GUI Junior Cup competition is another we have a strong team in.
“We are really hopeful that we can bring a bit of silverware back to Strabane this year. We have great hopes for some of our teams.”
On the home front the club intends to open a new shop and office in a little over two weeks’ time.
Brian is also looking forward to working alongside long-time friend and lady captain Anne Sharkey.
“Anne leaves no stone unturned,” he added.
“We go back a long time. I would be friendly with Anne’s husband Mark. Anne and I should work well together.
“She’s a hard worker and when Anne puts her mind to something more often that not it’s done. She’ll be a great asset for sure.
“As for the course it’s in tremendous shape and the greens are fantastic, given the amount of rain that we have had over the a past number of months. I was out playing recently after a two-day break without rain and the course was well dried out.
“It’s in fantastic shape and head greenkeeper Paul McFadden has been brilliant in his approach to the course all year round.
“Fingers crossed we can get a good dry summer. We are, after all, due a good stretch!”