Sport Golf

Saturday 10 December 2016

Children go crazy for golf in quest to be the next Paul Dunne

Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30

David Lavelle, a PGA Pro who runs the golf camp at Spawell Golf Centre, teaches Riona
Monadhan (9) from Rathmines
David Lavelle, a PGA Pro who runs the golf camp at Spawell Golf Centre, teaches Riona Monadhan (9) from Rathmines
Sean Griffin (6) from Rathmines during the Play2Learn Children’s Golf Camp at Spawell Golf Centre in Templeogue.
Brothers Evan (13) and Jonathan (10) Lynch from Chapelizod.

Miniature golf clubs in tow, they kneel on greens to line up shots and wave to their friends after each putt - just like the stars on TV.

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Tiger Woods first appeared in front of the cameras with a putter in his hand as a two-year-old, and while Ireland's latest golfers are not quite as young, they are just as eager.

Gillian Burrell, the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) tutor in Ireland, knows the game needs more than just the success of Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and new amateur star Paul Dunne rubbing off on younger golfers.

"Participation in Europe is down significantly so we are looking to help grow the game and look to give the customer what they want, not what we think they need in a traditional golf lesson scenario," she said.

Gillian is involved in a number of summer camps that aim to unearth the next Dunne.

She hopes the new generation will be inspired by his run at the British Open last weekend.

"There is no doubt that Irish golfers doing well does help but it makes more of a difference to the parents," she said.

"We are not a hothouse for kids who just play golf. We are very much about participation on the basis that kids enjoy it and stay golfing. Almost by default, golfers will emerge from that," explained Gillian.

She said that getting children playing as many sports as possible is key to bringing through the best talent.

"It is a bit like Jordan Spieth. He played every sport through to the age of 15 or 16," she said. "We include a lot of fundamental skills that we find a lot of kids don't have because they are not spending time playing multiple sports," she added.

Aaron Lynch sent his sons Jonathan (10) and Evan (13) to the Play2LearnGolf summer camp because he believes in the multi-sport ethos. However, he said if they begin to show potential, they may stick with one sport. "I think that there is probably an age where a decision has to be made but my kids are too young. When they get to 16 or 17 a decision probably needs to be made."

Dublin City University sport science lecturer David Passmore said the Irish make-up is ideal for producing top golfers.

"I think we benefit from good eye-hand co-ordination and I think the easy-going nature of Irish people is also a benefit," he said.

Irish Independent

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