The mental health of children in all of the schools across the United Kingdom and Ireland will be the focus of an ambitious new effort that will utilize golf as a tool to help address the situation.
Nick Dougherty, a former professional golfer who now serves as president of the charitable organization Golf Foundation, is the one who came up with the concept of “Unleash your drive.”
According to what Dougherty said in an interview with BBC Sport, “this is not about growing the game; rather, it is about growing a brighter future for kids.”
“It’s about having fun, learning new skills, and improving your mental toughness.”
The Golf Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is registered to give back to the community by teaching golf to kids from all walks of life. To implement the program in all 32,000 primary and secondary schools across the country will reportedly cost approximately 15 million pounds. The program is now operational.
Dougherty acknowledges that he may encounter opposition from some schools, but he emphasizes that all schools may benefit, regardless of their financial situation or the amount of outdoor space they have available.
“I want to reach the schools that need it the most, first,” he added. “I want to get the word out.” It is not necessary for you to have access to a golf course. It is not necessary to have physical education teachers instruct the class. Your classroom is all that is required.
“However, if schools decide to go to a golf course, then there is already a pathway to progress built in,”
Dougherty teaches the “plug and play” video lessons to the students, who hit targets with oversized equipment and light balls as part of the assessment of the “plug and play” video lessons’ impact on the students’ overall well-being.
“Mental toughness is built into each lesson,” he continued to say. “You might find that it takes some children a few tries to hit the ball, but once they do, you can challenge them to get the distance perfect, or hit the ball in the air, or hit the ball over a river that has been marked out by cones.
“It teaches the life skill of developing oneself and adjusting to new circumstances.
“The game will develop as a result of this, but the primary focus should be on making golf accessible to younger players. It’s not important as long as the kids are having a good time, and it’s okay if they never pick up a golf club again. It’s all about making a good impression and giving people a good time.”
A fresh incentive for fund-raising has been developed in order to assist with the financing of the effort, which is the result of five years’ worth of research and development work. At the end of it all, 72 golfers of any level will compete in the “Unleash Your Drive Final” held at Wentworth in the month of August 2024.
The top three finishers in that competition will receive invitations to compete in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am at Wentworth the following year.
Dougherty, who has served as president of the Golf Foundation since 2021, has high hopes that the effort would be funded not only by private sponsorship but also by money from the government.
He remarked that if everyone worked together, there was a chance that they could make a difference.
“Players such as Rory McIlroy, Leona Maguire, Justin Rose, and Tommy Fleetwood have shown me a lot of support,” he said. “I am very grateful for their kindness.” The R&A and the DP World Tour are also on board with this initiative. We have to put pressure on the government to assist us since they do have money set aside for situations like this.
“It’s a terrifying aspiration to have. On the other hand, I was not going to be a name printed on a sheet of paper. Because my children and I have benefited from playing this game, I feel obligated to give back to the community that created it.
“It’s about leaving something behind that made a difference, leaving the sport in a better place than I found it,” he said. “It’s about leaving something behind that made a difference.”