GOLF Southland’s junior development officer Simon Boland just wants youngsters to love playing golf.
The first step, he says, is to get them playing, and he’s well on the way to creating some exciting opportunities for them to do just that.
Boland took up the role as development officer late last year, having spent the past decade growing the junior game in Wakatipu.
Now, he’s spending part of his time in Southland, and the rest of his time in Wakatipu, but the aim in both areas remains the same – encouraging juniors to develop a lifelong love of the game.
“Kids learn a lot of life skills through golf,” he said.
“To be good at golf you need a good work ethic, you need perseverance, you need to show sportsmanship – all these skills that get you through life.
“We all have bad rounds, but it’s how you come back from that and how you work on what you need to be better, that’s what will help you on the golf course and off it.”
One of Boland’s first tasks in his role was to co-ordinate the Golf Southland primary school zone tournaments and final late last year.
The events attracted hundreds of youngsters and proved a great starting point and momentum, which he hoped would only grow.
“There is great potential here in Southland; the club and community support is something you wouldn’t find in many other places in the country,” he said.
“My main focus at the moment is creating opportunities. I’m very feedback-driven, the young people will let me know what works for them and what doesn’t and if we need to change things, we will.”
This year, it’s a case of so far, so good for Boland.
The junior summer series he set up had been well-attended.
He’s had several approaches from schools with pupils interested in the game and had been able to introduce the game to hundreds of juniors through that. The Southland Secondary School championships also attracted close to 100 players late last month.
Golf Southland chairman Phil McDonald said Boland brought a real enthusiasm, as well as valuable experience developing the junior game in Wakatipu.
“Simon has a huge enthusiasm for junior golf. He’s got some great ideas, and a passion to grow the game in Southland,” he said.
“We’re really looking forward to supporting him to enable more juniors to get involved with golf.”
Boland had represented Southland at masters level for the past five years.