A TYNESIDE college is teeing up another sporting first with a new apprenticeship to equip talented teenagers with the skills required to become professional golfers.
Gateshead College is partnering with one of the region’s finest golf courses – Matfen Hall – in a move which sees it become the first North East college to offer a Golf Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme.
The programme was launched at Matfen Hall in November, where a number of Gateshead College’s Golf Academy students participated in a driving, chipping, pitching and putting skills master class under the expert eye of club head professional John Harrison.
The apprenticeship, which is backed by England Golf, will be open to gifted young players aged 16-19, including those already at the college’s Golf Academy.
The AASE programme provides a two-year structured training and development course which students can follow to enhance their chances of breaking into the professional ranks.
They will work towards an NVQ Level 3 Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance as well as a BTEC Certificate in Sport (Performance and Excellence).
Participants will be able to take advantage of the college’s modern training and conditioning facilities, while the link with Matfen Hall will open up access to one of the best courses in the region.
Expert tuition from top coaches and sports experts will help unlock the students’ potential.
And in a further move to cement the new partnership, the college will be hosting its college championship at Matfen Hall next June.
John Harrison said: “The new programme is a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of young players to gain not only the professional but personal skills that will put them on the road to a career as a professional golfer and, who knows, maybe the next world number one.”
Alan Snowdon, head of sport at Gateshead College, said: “We’re very excited about the new partnership with Matfen Hall Golf Club. We wanted to form a partnership with a leading club that would nurture young golfers in a bid to help the UK’s new talent to come forward.
“It gives our students the chance to use excellent golfing facilities to develop their game and compete at a national level.
“There are plenty of opportunities for students enrolled at the Golf Academy, having the chance to compete in the Intercollegiate Golf Tour, which compromises of six regional tour events throughout the year.
“And now with the use of the great facilities at Matfen to improve their game, these young golfers can progress onto a golf scholarship at Northumbria University or in America.”
English Golf Union has also endorsed the course, whose regional development officer Jason Budd, said: “Nurturing young talent is important to secure the long-term future of golf at all levels regionally and nationally.
“This is a great initiative and will go a long way to fast-tracking today’s gifted young golfers into the professional ranks while laying down a strong foundation for future sporting talent.”
To qualify for the Golf Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence programme students will need to have at least four GCSE grades C or above and a handicap of four or lower (male) and eight or lower (female).
Once enrolled, they will learn about technical and tactical skills, fitness testing, sporting lifestyles, sporting psychology, nutrition and evaluation and analysis of sports performance.
They will also receive an individual learning and training plan, access to sports nutritionists, individual coaching and entry into competitive leagues, competitions and trials among other benefits.
The scheme is supported by the English Golf Partnership.
There are also opportunities in the Golf Academy – the only facility of its kind in the North East – for those keen to pursue a study programme, but who do not meet the exacting AASE criteria. This programme offers a more vocational-based employment route to a career in golf.