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Unleash Your Drive

Golf in every school in GB&I: Can Nick Dougherty’s ambitious plan succeed?

Nick Dougherty’s ambitious plan to make golf available to all schoolchildren in GB&I is under way

 

An ambitious scheme to get golf into every school in Great Britain & Ireland has been officially launched.

Unleash Your Drive, the brainchild of Sky Sports presenter Nick Dougherty and the Golf Foundation, aims to use the sport to help improve the mental wellbeing of children.

The culmination of five years of research and development, all schools will be invited to offer a six-week programme as part of their curriculum.

Testing, across various age groups, revealed an average improvement of 17 per cent in mental toughness for those who took part.

Mental toughness is defined the ability to remain resilient, focused, and determined in the face of challenges, setbacks, and pressure, while maintaining a positive and determined mindset.

Latest research on the mental health of young people in England revealed 18 per cent had a probable mental health issue and that children from disadvantaged backgrounds were three times more like to suffer.

Speaking to NCG about his plans earlier this year, Doughtery, who is the Golf Foundation’s president, said he was convinced there was not another sport that did a better job of teaching key life skills.

“If you can show the benefits of the sport, golf will be the by-product because we know when you play the game people just generally fall in love with it,” he said. “Covid was a great demonstrator for how that helped people through a time where mental health really did plummet.

“Golf can help kids. It can be like the well-being classes which are in a lot of schools now and are part of the curriculum.

“Even if children try it for a term, and decide they don’t want to do it anymore, they will have had a term’s worth of some of those lessons and life skills: whether it be integrity, discipline, work ethic, or the camaraderie.”

Unleash Your Drive Golf Foundation

Here’s how your school can get involved with Unleash Your Drive

Schools can access the programme by applying through the Unleash Your Drive website. The Golf Foundation is offering fully funded kit and resources to a selection of schools who are assessed as needing this special support, and an application window for this assistance runs until the end of October.

Any other school across GB&I can buy the programme immediately at a heavily subsidised rate. The money raised to support the programme will see more of the kit offered on a fully funded basis each year.

Dougherty added: “I know the power that the game can have, and I want to see its effect used to provide better futures for the next generations in terms of experiences and skills for life.

“The Golf Foundation have always been a powerful force in the game and they were a hugely positive influence for me as a junior – and the mental toughness work they have done ties in beautifully what I desired to achieve in helping the game to present learning experiences and skills that children can apply to life as well as the game. 

“The power of the breathing, concentration and positivity within this programme is huge for any youngster dealing with the stresses of school and life at that stage in their development. If we can get golf to more of these young people, we can have a real impact!”

Nick Dougherty TaylorMade bag

What are the aims of the programme?

  • It is the Golf Foundation’s initiative to help improve the mental wellbeing of pupils in schools
  • Target 32,000 schools in GB&I
  • Six week course that can be delivered by teachers and measures the impact on pupils’ mental wellbeing
  • Nine mental toughness tools embedded within the training that teach the pupils transferable life skills
  • Open to all schools (free to those most in need) across GB&I

What do you think about Unleash Your Drive? Should every child in GB&I get the chance to play golf? Let me know with a comment on X, formerly known as twitter.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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