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October 13, 2007

Fred Lindgren

Mike Round

DJ Spoony


SCOTT KELLY: As a casual intro before we start, children, this is Gordon Simpson. He's the guy in charge of this place for The European Tour, and he's the guy that's going to run the show. Just for the benefit of everybody else, because the people on the stage, I want to blow their trumpet a little bit. Gordon, you know. Freddie Lindren is my colleague at the Tour, past player and he really has been the link with the Golf Foundation from our perspective for the last two or three years, and he's sat on the council and so he's really the link from us to our support work with junior golf.
Jonathan Joseph - DJ Spoony - is I think one of the most inspiring guys in golf at the moment. He's really behind this grass roots programme, and I'm going to let him tell you all about it himself. And this man, really who never gets much chance to talk about the work he does, Mike Round, he's the chief executive of the Golf Foundation and he really puts all this work in day-in, day-out. It's no fun on a wet Thursday in February, but this is a chance to share with you what we do, what we believe in at The European Tour and what these guys are doing week-in and week-out, and it's a great privilege and pleasure to have all these guys here today.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you, Scott. For the media that have joined us today, thank you for giving up your time to join the conference today. I'm going to start with Fred Lindgren, our marketing executive. Fred will say a few words and then Spoony, and Mike at the end will say something. Fred, if you'll start as well, please.
FRED LINDGREN: Thank you for coming and thank you to HSBC for providing this platform and also for supporting junior golf through the Wee Wonders Tournament. All of us who are in the business of golf, we really owe the success to what we've been doing to actually all of these people who are working hard to grow the game, to grow the market and to get more people into the game.
What we do try to do is, of course, to showcase the best through media, with your help, and what better way is there to get clubs in youngsters' hands and really get them out there and get them playing golf. We see it with both The Ryder Cup and on The European Tour; we believe in it and we have believed in this for a long, long time. And you see people like the Scottish executive who now are focusing on trying to get every nine-year-old in Scotland to try golf before 2010, and we see Wales building nine-hole courses to grow the interest in the game and it is working like a charm.
The Golf Foundation, of course, is instrumental sitting right in the middle of all this making sure that all of these fantastic activities in the U.K. are being coordinated and delivered and it's all thanks to Mike Round and their organisation and the golf organisation is doing a fantastic job across in the U.K.
If you look at it, the Golf Foundation, really, they are more than just about sort of getting people to play golf. They are trying to grow the individual, put a person in the centre of the whole programme and learning, you know, teaching these people skills for life rather than just golf; helping them grow as people by using the vehicle of golf. It's absolutely amazing to see, the confidence and integrity that comes through. Just looking at the kids here today, the confidence that they have walking around here and being on television, being in front of all the cameras, golf has really helped, and it's great to see them here.
And you know, nothing's more evident than the golf roots programme which is really the brainchild of Spoony and some colleagues at activate many years ago. The Golf Foundation got involved and The European Tour got involved and we try to help grow the game, and without Spoony, there would be no golf roots and there would be no proper golf activity in the inner cities in the U.K.
I think it's happening now. All of us here, we're indebted to the Golf Foundation and to Spoony for working hard to grow the game and growing the kids in the programme through the vehicle of golf. It's just absolutely amazing to see.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much, Freddie.
Spoony, I think maybe you want to explain to the media just who we've got here today to join us and what you've been involved in the last couple of years.
DJ SPOONY: Okay. Good morning, or is it afternoon almost. It's about four years ago, a company called activate as Freddie just mentioned asked me to go to Water Works Centre in Hackney. They read somewhere that I am involved in playing golf, and I'm a Hackney child myself and would I just come down there and take some pictures with the young people.
I went down there and I was touched with the enthusiasm of young people in my old London borough; the borough that I grew up in, and a borough that didn't have a golf course. It doesn't have a golf course. It's one of the few London boroughs that doesn't have a golf course. And I thought, you know, these kids are being not willfully deprived, but they are not going to be exposed to a game and an opportunity that I think is fantastic. But as Freddie said, to not only achieve something, whether it be professionally or as an amateur, but just in life skill form as golf works.
So I thought, I'm going to try to do all I can to raise the exposure of Golf Roots and the Golf Roots Foundation, call in some favours from some famous celebrity friends of mine and broadcast, whether it be BBC or the people at Sky, help from some sponsors and just try and expose young people to golf and what it can do for them. Four or five years on, we're here.
Now I just have to turn up every now and again and host a couple of golf events but really the Golf Foundation do all the work behind the scenes day-in and day-out. Mike has got a fantastic team around, and they get up and down the country. What I'm trying to do is obviously in London, where I'm from but the same rules apply in the inner cities of Birmingham, Leeds, South Hampton, Norwich, anywhere in cities where young people are not exposed to golf.
You know, I played football every day three times a year for 20 years, and I don't think I saw a golf course until I was maybe nearly 30, which is a crying shame because as I've got on now and appreciate golf courses, they are some of the most beautiful places that I've ever seen. So from there on I said I'm going to try to do whatever I can to raise as much money as I can for the Golf Roots Foundation and to get as many people around the country exposed to the beautiful game of golf, and here we are today in one of the most beautiful settings.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thanks very much, Spoony.
And Mike, you can say a few words on behalf of the Golf Foundation.
MIKE ROUND: Thanks very much and let me start by saying a big thank you to The European Tour, HSBC and Wentworth for giving us the opportunity to bring the children here and today is very much about the children that we have got sitting in front of us. And also giving you the opportunity, and just to tell you about the work of the Golf Foundation, as Scott said, often the work that we do is fairly invisible. It's under a lot of people's radar and the work they will be doing in schools and community projects, but it is important work both for golf in terms of generating new golfers, but also for the young people themselves in terms of the enjoyment they get out of golf and the personal skills and qualities that golf will help them to develop.
I don't get a stage like this very often so if you just give me the few minutes to tell you a bit about what the golf it foundation has done over the last ten years or so, I'll skip through this fairly quickly.
In '99, that's really where we had a big change in Golf Foundation. TryGolf was launched in 2000 and that is the primary-school programme which is used extensively across schools and towns and cities and individuals up and down Great Britain. There's a lot of TryGolf activity happening.
Over the ten-year period we have distributed about seven and a half thousand sets of kits to schools. We've trained about 10,000 children and sports leaders. In 2006 we launched a secondary programme called Golf Extreme, and that is having the same sort of success on the secondary level of golf as the TryGolf has at the primary level.
We now have a mini event for under 12 called the Faldo Mini Series. And we were with Spoony down at the Faldo Series Grand Final early this week with some youngsters who had progressed through the Faldo Mini Series. We have now got a very successful strategy of how we work in schools and school clusters, and that is proving to be a huge success. Teachers out there, now, whereas in the past we used to have to trying to argue the case for golf. Now the teachers are coming to us and saying: How can we get involved; we see the values golf has to offer; how do we get involved.
And of course the major programme for us is Golf Roots, and that would not have happened had it not been for the input of Spoony and also the support we've received from the Tour. That's grown over the years and we hope that as time goes by, we'll be able to do more and more with Golf Roots, because we know the benefits that the sport can offer to the youngsters that we see sitting in front of us here today.
So we've made a lot of progress and we're pleased with what we've achieved over the last ten years or so. We estimate there's about half a million youngsters a year involved with Golf Foundation programs across the country, a lot of kids we're reaching. Not necessarily to convert them to be tour players as an event such as this. Some of them will go on to be keen golfers and some may compete at an event like this in the future, but they will go on to use skills that they learn in other walks in life, or they may become golf writers or golf architects or golf secretaries or golf pros. There are lots of opportunities now available to these youngsters, and I think it's great that we are now able to reach them at such a young age and allow them to take part in all those activities.
A big occasion this year for us was a report in the Times in February this year where the Prime Minister and the education secretary at a conference of a lot of sports specialists said this, and I'll quote this if you don't mind me quoting. "Ministers have been particularly impressed by the success of schools that have introduced golf to encourage participation on children who had shown physical activity." We have had a huge amount of growth, and at the club level, we know from the surveys at the club level that over the last two years in England there have been seven and a half thousand new junior memberships into golf clubs and that represented about three quarters of million in terms of subscription income for the golf clubs.
So the work we do definitely benefits in the golf club network which has always been the case. But there is an issue we faced in the organisation, and the likes of Spoony and the Tour are helping us with this. But the big issue relates to the fund-raising.
I'll read a statement that I found, this was in an Open Championship Programme, there's a souvenir programme in 1960 and it actually said in that programme: Every year so far the Golf Foundation has succeeded in expanding its tuition scheme still further to take on more schools and more players. The prospect for the future is of continuing expansion and that prediction was right. We have continued to expand but it also went on to say, how far this expansion can go depends on the financial future of the Golf Foundation. Every extra donation received means an extra chance for a boy or girl at school to learn golf the right way.
The key phrase is: How far this expansion goes depends on the financial future of the Golf Foundation. That's still the case. It was the case 47 years ago and still the case now.
And we know we've got ever-growing demands for the work we do, and I believe that golf needs the Golf Foundation to do this work because we don't benefit from what we do; the children who get into golf don't join us as members and golf clubs don't affiliate to us. The work that we do benefits all the other levels of the game that sit above us. We believe there's value in the work we're doing. We know the teachers like what we do and we know the children enjoy their experiences when they take part in the activity. And we know we are on the right track and we know they are progressing from the schools into junior membership and participation. But we cannot fully develop our ideas and initiatives because we still rely too heavily on ad hoc income and there's something that we are trying to change as we move through from 2007 to 2008.
It's frustrating for us because we know we can create the opportunities and we know there are organisations who do support us. The European Tour, the R&A, The Ryder Cup Committee, the PGA, individuals such as Spoony, we do get government founding through sporting and so we are making progress. But there is still work to be done generating income through the golf clubs and the club golfers.
So that's why at the back end of last year, we launched a campaign called Commit to Junior Golf, and what that's basically doing, it's a very simple idea. It's just asking every golfer at every golf club to donate just £2 per year, just £2 per year. We believe that's not a big ask for a lot of people out there, but that would make a huge difference to the work that we do. That would have made us going to more schools and more partnerships and reach more youngsters to give them the benefits golf can offer. And there's lots of other things we can do with golf using the life skills, geography, science. We know we can go about the exercise of setting up a network of communities coaches and through the work we've done with Spoony and the organizers from these areas, we know there is lots more that we can do with Golf Roots projects.
So we are passionate about what we do and we know that offers benefits to the children, to the sport, to the wider community and we know that through experience. So we're hoping that we can continue to do as much as we can for the sport and for the young people, and we hope that the sport will in return reciprocate that by getting behind our Commit to Junior Golf campaign and help us to raise the funds that we so desperately need.
I probably should climb back off my soapbox at that point. So thank you to the Tour and HSBC and to Wentworth. And many thanks to the guy setting next to me, Spoony, because if he were not supporting Golf Roots in the way that he does, none of these children would be sitting here today; and today, and our activity is all about children like this. Thank you very much for the opportunities. (Applause).
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you for stating the case so eloquently.

Q. £2 per member per year, is that through England or England and South Wales and how much money, if that happened would that raise?
MIKE ROUND: Well, that would be across Great Britain, England Scotland and Wales. The estimate, for example, in England, the estimate is there's 800,000 members of golf clubs in England, so in England that would raise £1.6 million.
It would -- the probably we have is long term secure funding. It's very definitely for a developing organisation to plan five, ten years ahead, and to work with these youngsters we need to be planning five, ten years ahead because they go through primary school, secondary school and into community golf and we cannot do that based on fund-raising. This idea is when it's embedded into the golf clubs, it becomes an annual fund-raising exercise that would make a difference.
The estimate across three countries would be in the region of just under £2 million.

Q. What is it today?
MIKE ROUND: The fund-raising through golf clubs at the moment, last year through our annual report would probably stand at about 50,000 to 60,000.
GORDON SIMPSON: Just in case you missed what Scott was saying, The European Tour actively encourage youngsters to come to golf tournaments free of charge under the age of 16.

Q. Just on a practical point, you said something like half a million youngsters are involved a year. Golf clubs, they are a fairly essential part of playing golf. Where do you get your golf clubs from? How many do you have?
MIKE ROUND: When we work with -- when we construct a project, similar with the projects you've seen in front of us, we will go into a local area and look at the cluster of schools and it's a government driven initiative to cluster the schools and I think there's 449 schools with partnerships across the country. Typically they may have within a cluster 50-odd schools, primary and secondary.
So we would go into that communities and talk with what's called a partnership development manager and try to construct some sort of project like we have with the Golf Roots, for example.
But in constructing that project, our regional offices and we have Carol in the audience here who does this work in the southeast of England in constructing the project, she will also look at the local area, talk to the local people to find out which golf clubs in the local area might want to work with us -- but I should say golf facilities.
In Hackney, for example, the facility we work with is the Water Works. So that means David, who is in the audience here, will be doing the work with the local schools, feeding the youngsters into the programme that he's got at the facility in the hope that they will come back as regular participants and so on.
So there are now plenty of golf clubs out there that are far more receptive than they were in the past and that's a growing number of golf clubs. Their effort outside of the work we do, their efforts made outside of the national golfing bodies for England Scotland and Wales, trying to get the clubs to be receptive when the youngsters want to carry on through. These guys are fortunate in these areas, there are some fantastic organizers with us today that are making happen but that's how it would work is in constructing a project, we would make sure the facilities are built into them.

Q. I was actually referring to golf clubs.
MIKE ROUND: Oh, the clubs. The equipment. (Laughing).
With the primary school programme, it has its own adapted equipment, the primary school and the partner can help us distribute that to the schools and the golf facilities. At the secondary level, we have especially designed equipment and sets that go to the secondary schools.
Once we get to the golf facilities, there's lots of fabulous junior equipment available these days. We don't necessarily need to have the same sport of specialt-designed kits once the youngsters get interested. I think we would probably find that a lot of youngsters now can probably access golf equipment, either new or second hands much more easily than years gone by. We are not finding equipment to be an issue.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much for your attendance today. Anything you can do to help publicise this initiative would be greatly appreciated through your various publications. Thanks again to all of you today, and especially the kids for coming along and sitting so patiently during the press conference. Thanks very much everyone and enjoy rest of the day. Thank you.
DJ SPOONY: Please write that Spoony left his £2 on the table. (Laughter) Thank you.

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