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We have been preparing a Kent Golf nomination for the County of the Year award and are extremely proud of all that has been achieved this year. It was challenging to compress all our successes into a maximum of 200 words per question, but we have done it and would like to share the 2021 reflection with you.
1. How has this county continually demonstrated support and engagement with its county members, players, and community of golfers?
Kent Golf engages with its members, players and local golfing community via monthly e-newsletters delivered to almost 1300 subscribers (and the list is growing), as well as social media posts on a near daily basis. Our current social media follower numbers are: Facebook 988, Twitter 1,688, Instagram 2,074 (growing weekly). We keep the news section on our website up to date (which feeds into our igCounty app) with the latest results, achievements and guidance and all other relevant ‘golfing’ updates. These online tools have proved very useful and effective in keeping the local golfing community informed on various topics, not only from Kent but the whole of England & beyond. Subscribers and followers enjoy reading about all of our teams’ successes, from juniors through to seniors, our junior & disability academies, competition results, our Clubs’ SafeGolf and Women in Golf Charter accreditations, our players’ national and international participation and achievements and Kent Golf’s club development grants success stories. They can also read about awareness days (eg. Thank a Greenkeeper, Safeguarding in Sport, Stress & Mental Health, Breast Cancer and Disability Awareness), WHS information, England Golf, the Golf Foundation and other events, initiatives and information, including the latest Covid guidance.
2. How has this county gone about supporting playing opportunities at all levels of ability, including the development of new junior and adult golfers?
We are committed to making the game of golf accessible to all and have launched two Junior Disability Academies this year at Kings Hill and Stonelees, which resulted in very positive parent feedback.
We launched an ‘Invicta 10s’ Tour for children with a handicap of 40+ or no handicap at all. 29 participants learnt valuable golfing skills over 4 events (culminating in a Final), playing 9 holes on the host clubs’ academy course and undertaking skills challenges.
Through our academies we were able to support Kent golf clubs wishing to enter the ‘GolfSixes’ tournament for young players with no handicap or a handicap of 37 plus.
We run 6 Junior & Junior Disability Academies for children from 6 years of age, including one Girls Only academy.
Having become signatories to the Women in Golf Charter, we ran a successful social media campaign aimed at reaching a wide community of non-golfing ladies. 11 ladies attended our first ever ‘Women on Par’ event held at Westerham Golf Club in September.
During the year we run regular coaching sessions for various different County squads, including those for players who haven’t yet reached the necessary standard to play in our top teams.
3. Can you provide examples of how this county has offered a welcoming, accessible, and inclusive environment adhering to all safeguarding standards, within their championships and all other county activities?
Having become a SafeGolf Accredited County, as well as a signatory to the WIG Charter, we have demonstrated our desire for everyone to have a safe, fun golfing experience. Having set the example to clubs and facilities, we are proud to say that by September 2021 all 82 Kent golf clubs and 2 facilities had gained SafeGolf Accreditation. We have always fully supported the process and promoted its importance at every opportunity. Safeguarding is at the heart of the County. Our operations and practical examples of this are our online forms for ‘Junior Player Profile and Parental Consent’, ‘Photography Consent’, ‘Code of Conduct for Parents/Carers of Young Golfers’ and Kent Golf’s ‘Social Contract’. All our staff, volunteers and coaches must pass a strict eligibility check and we have two Welfare Officers (one female and one male) who are on hand to assist with any concerns or issues. We have a clear policy as to the ratio of adults to juniors and will cancel an event if we cannot provide that level of supervision. Our staff and volunteers have access to First Aid training and we ensure that host clubs have identified First Aiders on site for our events.
4. Can you illustrate how this county has supported the introduction of the World Handicap System through the provision of education and advice to golf clubs?
Before the implementation of WHS, we supported our member clubs by offering a grant of £150 to be used in the purchase of Course Handicap boards, supplementing the voucher issued by England Golf.
We ran several online workshops for our clubs via Zoom in February 2021 that were designed for Handicap Secretaries and Handicap Committee members. These provided an opportunity to raise any issues or questions that may have arisen at their clubs since WHS was launched in November 2020. A questions and answers document from these sessions was created and made available online. We have had many responses from the clubs and members thanking us for our support.
We have been proactive in relation to winter golf and qualifying scores, visiting a number of clubs to provide advice and explanation. This has been well received and enabled golf club managers to better explain issues to their membership.
We keep the WHS page on our website up to date, with internal and external links to relevant information and articles. We have a ‘Question Time’ section in our monthly e-newsletters that relates to WHS, and encourage readers to click the ‘Answer’ link to learn about the specific WHS question asked.
5. Is there anything you would like to include to support this nomination?
We are the first of the larger counties to become unified and are immensely proud of what we have achieved thus far. We have a mixed gender Board (4 out of our 11 Directors are women) and all our committees are mixed gender. Furthermore, our County Secretary is female.
Following the start of the global pandemic, when we could no longer host events or develop players, we introduced various grants for Kent golf clubs in order to give something back. Clubs could apply for grants of up to £2,000 to support initiatives such as disability, juniors, women, diversity and environmental/sustainability. We also created a Junior Development Support Grant (up to £1,000) to encourage clubs to build up their junior sections using the funds in imaginative and creative ways. Added to that we’ve given marketing grants to attract new members.
We have again been proactive in supporting Girls Golf Rocks with 9 clubs involved.
We adopted a ‘Social Contract & Commitment’ letter, setting out what the County expects of its golfers and what our golfers can expect from the County. This letter also outlines the expectation that players representing the County take personal responsibility for fair play, honesty and integrity.