St Mellion International Resort, the flagship venue at one of England’s most progressive golf groups, is planning to develop its next generation of golfers with a major new Scholarship.
This month the club, which is part of the award-winning Crown Golf group, embarks on a search for local youngsters aged between 12 and 18, who will each be granted full membership and free lessons from the club’s PGA Teaching Professional Jason Avery.
The membership gives full playing access to the two championship golf courses at the resort, the world-famous Nicklaus and the recently-refurbished Kernow, as part of a newly-created St Mellion Junior Golf Scholarship.
At the same time, the club has announced that its popular free membership scheme for under-10s is to be extended to include all under-12s.
The club’s current Junior Members have already started to apply for the Scholarships, which will be assessed on a youngster’s willingness to attend coaching sessions regularly, to play for the club’s junior teams and – if they achieve the right level of ability – to represent Cornwall at county level.
St Mellion juniors who remain in the Junior Golf Scholarship scheme will in this way have their golf completely funded right through until their 18th birthday – up to six years’ coaching and golf at one of the UK’s favourite golf destinations.
The Scholarship is the brainchild of Jason Avery, and David Moon, St Mellion’s Director of Golf. “This will be a game-changer here at St Mellion” said Moon, “not just for our junior section but also for the way we develop long-term members at this golf club. Our goal is to create a strong, loyal and competitive junior team who are each developing their involvement in golf at their own pace. And over time, we believe they will flourish not only as better golfers, but also as young ambassadors for St Mellion and everything it stands for. This is our chance to create a golf club for the future.”
“The Scholarship is open to all, regardless of background or golfing experience” said professional golf coach Avery, whose Junior Golf Scholarship coaching programme begins in February 2014. “It is all about identifying potential, and helping to develop it. We have kept the barriers low, as regards eligibility for these Scholarships. If a youngster is capable of playing handicap-level golf, is willing to be team-spirited and is capable of engaging consistently in both group and individual coaching sessions, then we want them playing golf at St Mellion.”
Although the average UK golf club nowadays has less than three girl members (source: Syngenta ‘Growing Golf In The UK’ 2013), Crown Golf’s inclusive philosophy has led to a high proportion of female members across the group, with St Mellion itself a true beacon for both girls’ and women’s golf, having one of the UK’s highest percentages of lady members.
Men and women have enjoyed complete equality at St Mellion since the golf club’s inception, and the success of young St Mellion female golfers such as Sammy Giles – South West Girls Champion, three-time Cornwall Junior Champion and winner of the Andalucian Junior Open for the last three years running – have attracted many golf-mad girls to the club.
Avery believes that the Junior Golf Scholarship will unearth several new young female talents. “The Scholarship is open to both sexes, of course,” he said, “but given the fact that St Mellion has a high female participation rate and a family-friendly and unstuffy attitude, it will be particularly appealing to girl golfers who may be struggling to find the right environment in the local area.”
Stephen Towers, Resort Director at St Mellion, feels that the Junior Golf Scholarship typifies the resort’s attitude towards playing an active role in the community. “It is important that we get the parents’ backing for this” he said. “I am sure that they will welcome the financial benefits of the Scholarship, but I think they will also appreciate that this is as much about attitude and personal development, as it is about teaching youngsters how to be better golfers.
“I believe that this new Scholarship will foster the best possible relationship between the club, and the families of the 25 children involved. To maximise parental engagement, we have designed the coaching activities so that non-golfing parents can, if they wish, enter our innovative Get Into Golf programme, to help them join in with their children’s golfing development, regardless of their experience."
“I feel that this typifies the resort’s holistic approach. We like to be seen as far more than just a golf club, and I think that this Scholarship and the activities surrounding it will give our pupils and their extended families and friends a great opportunity to enjoy not only golf but also all the other facilities which St Mellion offers.”
In recent years St Mellion has developed similar substantial initiatives such as the Tournament Golf Partnership with Duchy College and The St Mellion School Of Hospitality and Tourism, which have established the resort not only as a key player in the south west golfing landscape, but also as a magnet for activities beyond golf in the local community.
Robin Hancock, St Mellion Club Captain in 2013, has also championed the creation of the new Scholarship. “This has been a great team effort within the club, and we are all determined to lay down strong foundations for the future not only of our junior section, but also our whole membership” he said. “The club officials, the members themselves, Crown Golf and of course St Mellion International Resort have all been very supportive, and in David Moon, Jason Avery and Ross Whitelock we have a strong team set up to manage this important Scholarship for the junior golfers and their parents.
“Passionate golfers are the life blood of this club, and we cannot wait to see the results which this will surely produce over the next few years.”
Simon Wood, Cornwall Golf Development Officer, commented: “As a former junior there myself, I have seen St Mellion produce many county and international players at first hand. This exceptional new Junior Golf Scholarship, which is on a scale which I have not seen before, will grow that trend. It’s fantastic to see St Mellion offering such a great way to get more juniors involved in the game. The fact that such a prestigious club is investing time and money in creating a pathway to encourage young golfers to reach their full potential, sets a superb example to the rest of the British golf industry. This new Scholarship will certainly help to develop new talent in Cornwall, and I think that it marks St Mellion as one of the South West’s most progressive golf clubs.”
David Moon has the final word: “We want the best, most passionate junior golfers within striking distance in Cornwall and Devon to come to St Mellion and learn to play the game properly” he said. “Golf can be a lifelong skill, and can teach you so much not only about yourself, but also about how to behave around other people, and that is part of what this Scholarship is all about.
“We are extremely excited to see how our first 25 scholarship-winners progress over their first twelve months, and we are all looking forward to building the team spirit as we approach the 2014 golfing season.”
Photograph: From Left, PGA Teaching Professional Jason Avery; Junior Organiser Paul Giles; new Scholarship pupils Alex Swabey and Jack Lambert; St Mellion Club Captain Robin Hancock.