By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE Fourteen Clubs Golf Academy continues its mission of looking to implement golf in public primary schools and expose more student-athletes to the sport.
The Academy will begin its scouting programme with three select schools next week in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Palmdale Primary will be sponsored by McDonald’s while TG Glover and Eva Hilton will be sponsored by Scotiabank.
Fourteen Clubs Program Director and Lead Coach Georgette Rolle said the programme was created out of a need to target an underserved segment of potential golfers.
“We’re a programme with two main initiatives. We teach a year-round programme to about 60 golfers and in the first years of the programme we realised a lot of the students were from the private schools. Through our nonprofit golf camps we saw the talent of a lot of our kids from those public schools and it was a golden opportunity for us to pursue. In the first year of the programme, two of the students have been progressing tremendously in the game despite just starting with us in September. It’s fun to see the kids blossom that quickly,” Rolle said.
“What we do is we go in for 10 weeks and teach golf in the PE classes. After a few weeks we identify 2-3 of the kids who are excelling and who seem to have the right characteristics to swing the gold club. We then place them in our programme on a scholarship. That is the start of our feeder programme. Our plan is to continue to expose these kids to the game and indirectly we expose others who want to be involved. We want to show them that you don’t have to have a lot of money to play golf, I certainly didn’t.”
The pilot programme reached hundreds of students in its first edition and has inspired others to join Rolle at Fourteen Clubs. Several of those players now compete regularly on the club’s Front Nine Junior Golf Tour.
“We have our junior programme called the Front 9, where we have our juniors play in courses around the Bahamas, here in New Providence, in Grand Bahama, Abaco and Exuma later in the year.
“We just sent eight kids to play in Trinidad and Tobago. For many of them it was their first international event so that exposure got them eager to ply even more,” she added.
“The talent in the public schools has been progressing rapidly. Just like the other sports a lot of our talent lies in the public school system, they just need someone to provide the opportunity for them to showcase that talent. Hopefully within the next few years they progress to the high schools and university level, but for now we are thankful to continue this relationship with the ministries of Education and Youth, Sports and Culture.”
Rolle, who has competed several times at the LPGA Pure Silk Classic, currently serves as a pro at the Baha Mar Royal Blue Golf Course in addition to her role with Fourteen Clubs.
“We are hoping that this blossoms into many professional golfers and they continue to be encouraged and grow in the game of golf. It is envisioned that through these programmes we are able to find diamonds in the rough in these schools,” said Evon Wisdom Senior Education Officer at the Ministry of Education.
“We started at the primary level for the children to blossom from there and we look forward in the future to start a system where these young persons enter the senior high and can continue their path in the sport.”