Turning a Shadwell park into a golf course could unearth the Tiger Woods of tomorrow
Augusta, St Andrews, Sunningdale, King Edward Memorial Park in Shadwell – the odd one out when it comes to golf courses is clear to see.
Over 50 young pupils from English Martyrs primary school turned the park into a temporary course yesterday though to practice their shots outdoors, ably helped by older children from Bishop Challoner school.
The surprising sight of golf being played in the middle of Tower Hamlets is the result of the hard work of the borough’s school sports partnership, a retired cancer doctor from Barts and the Royal London Hospital and a golf training company.
Professor Tim Oliver, 69, a founder of the Orchid Cancer charity, is promoting golf and exercise in general as a key weapon against cancers and has worked to develop participation in Tower Hamlets.
Now schoolchildren can take advantage by playing Snag (“Starting New At Golf”), a simpler, less expensive version of the full game using lighter clubs, soft balls and which crucially can be played anywhere including school sports halls.
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Players aim the ball onto a bulls eye target or chip and pitch it towards a “sticky flag”.
Professor Oliver said: “The importance of exercise is a lifelong message, so that’s why we are focusing on these young children.
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“This is an activity everyone can participate in because of the handicap system.”
Owen Henry, Bishop Challoner’s school sports coordinator, said: “I’m sure there are hundreds of pupils who have passed through Tower Hamlets schools without every playing golf.”
The primary school pupils have trained for the last six weeks, learning the basic techniques of the sport using two special clubs called the launcher and the roller.
“It’s really, really cool,” said Tuana Boztepe, 10.
There are plans to offer golf in other Tower Hamlets schools, including Blue Gate Fields infant school and even hold a summer tournament against South African schools.
As the sport will be included in the Olympics in 2016, there could be another advantage to this early training.
Professor Oliver joked: “We’re training our squad up.”