In 2016 SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. worked with the Golf Foundation to undertake a comprehensive study on junior retention.  A key finding of the research was that juniors and parents wanted to see more varied events and competitions and that juniors wanted opportunities to play less than 18 holes. A junior tour of other clubs was seen as a ‘must have’ by juniors themselves and 63% of parents felt it was better for their child to experience golf at a range of venues.

The research findings have now been used as the basis for a new initiative to help grow the junior game. The Golf Foundation has partnered with the European Tour to stage its own junior team event to coincide with the European Tour’s new short form event – GolfSixes.

The GolfSixes League with the European Tour sees teams of six new to intermediate juniors playing six holes at different golf clubs in a fun local league.

The initiative allows promising new young golfers to represent their golf clubs in a league against other local clubs while kitted out in team shirts.  All the clubs involved operate the Golf Foundation’s successful HSBC Golf Roots programme that helps young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in golf.

Following the success of six pilot leagues in 2017, the initiative will now be rolled out to a further 28 in 2018 and will also be trialled in Holland and Belgium.

Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “The aim of the Golf Sixes Academy is to encourage more young people, supported by their parents, to enjoy the fun and competitive team atmosphere of golf, similar to other team sports such as football or netball, so that they want to play golf on a more regular basis.

“GolfSixes, with its team formats and kit, Texas scramble shotmaking for the kids and the family involvement, will be a great addition to our support for clubs and we are hugely grateful to the European Tour for allowing us to embrace the GolfSixes brand in this way.”

“The Junior Retention Study showed that factors including availability of junior courses and academies, tolerant members, the ability to bring friends along for free and topically, more varied team formats, are the primary factors in retaining junior members. We are delighted that this has helped develop an initiative that is being well received by juniors and parents alike”

Richard Payne, Director of Sports Accounts at SMS INC. said, “This junior Golf Sixes initiative is a great example of research in action. SMS INC. prides itself on its user friendly and insightful research programmes and this development to the junior game showcases the power of research and great partnership working.  We are excited to see how the initiative grows in the future and the impact that it has on growing the game and junior retention”

The programme has received funding from Sport England and is supported by the European Tour, England Golf and The R&A.