Webb’s mission to grow junior golf - PGA of Australia

Webb’s mission to grow junior golf

Last Sunday, Bill Webb conducted a junior clinic for 26 kids in the town of Theodore, four hours west of Bundaberg.

If that doesn’t sound like a large number, consider that in the most recent Census, Theodore had a reported population of 438.

The Theodore Golf Club currently boasts just 24 adult members.

With lollies hidden beneath cones spread across the practice putting green, Webb conducted chipping and putting games, giving kids a taste of a sport they had previously very little exposure to.

Now in his 40th year as a PGA of Australia Member and honoured with the Sport and Recreation Award at the Gladstone Region Australia Day Awards last month, Webb’s philosophy towards golf is simple: Opportunity.

“That’s the key to it. Just make it available,” said Webb, who is based primarily at Calliope and Boyne Island Tannum Sands golf clubs in Central Queensland.

“If I can get the kids playing, it just teaches them a little bit of discipline. It teaches them a little bit of empathy for themselves and others, when you have bad scores and when you have good scores.

“And you have friends for life in golf.”

Introducing kids to golf has been a passion of Webb’s ever since he completed the PGA’s Membership Pathway Program under the legendary Bren Alman at Mackay Golf Club in 1983.

In the final year of his training, Webb sought to grow the junior numbers at Mackay, first by targeting teenagers attending the local TAFE College.

A big believer that even if kids take time away from the game that they will return and become golf club members later in life, Webb has seen first-hand the societal impact golf can have on young people.

During a stint coaching at Hamilton 20 minutes south of Glasgow in Scotland, Webb’s junior program at the local driving range brought plaudits not only from the Scottish PGA, but from leaders within the community who were struggling to come to grips with youth crime.

“Where I lived, at nighttime, you’d have to catch a cab to go up the corner shop. Pretty rough,” Webb said.

“I provided free golf lessons for kids at the driving range and we had 50 kids turn up.

“They were mainly teenagers I was chasing and just hitting golf balls got rid of all their worries and anxiety and stuff.

“Those kids kept turning up.”

Heavily entrenched in a host of sports in the Gladstone region, Webb is the driver of the Free Sports for Kids campaign and sourced a base for Special Olympics in the area.

He has introduced golf to Kin Kora State School and Calliope High School and would like to see more Government support for the provision of sport in schools.

“We’ve got to start with the schools first,” Webb believes.

“We’ve got to provide more money in schools so they can have inter-school sport in all the local little schools in all sorts of sports, including golf.

“That competition against other schools is a good start for kids because more kids will then start talking about it.

“When I first started off, I went to 17 different schools off my own bat and I did it for free.

“The good thing about golf is that if a child has a little bit of anxiety playing sport with other kids, the child can actually go out to golf and be in their own space.”

And those 26 kids in Theodore?

They’ll be back again in three weeks’ time for a free clinic, sausage sizzle and with plenty of lollies to be won.

Looking for a junior clinic near you? Head to Find-a-Pro, to find a Pro near you.

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