Golf for Good

Nick Dougherty launches new national initiative to help mental wellbeing in schools through the power of golf

The Golf Foundation launched the Unleash Your Drive initiative today, aimed at using golf to help improve the mental wellbeing of children in schools. The initiative, launched at Wentworth Club by Golf Foundation President and Sky Sports Presenter, Nick Dougherty, is inviting every school in GB&I to offer the six-week programme as part of their curriculum.

Unleash Your Drive is the culmination of five years of research and development that has been tested at both primary and secondary school level. The programme incorporates nine key mental toughness tools that have been proven to benefit the mental wellbeing of young people.

Testing of the programme has seen children taking part across varying ages, and an average 17% improvement in mental toughness in those who have taken part. Developed in collaboration with mental wellbeing experts, and including metrics that incorporate the widely used Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing scale, the programme has ensured it meets the highest standards to make a genuine difference to a generation that needs support more than ever.

The latest research on the mental health of young people in England shows that 18% have a probable mental health issue1 (NHS Digital November 2022), and that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are 3 times more likely to suffer from a mental health issue2 (Commission on Young Lives, November 2022)

In order to access the programme, schools can apply via the Unleash Your Drive website. The 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. Meanwhile, any school across GB&I can purchase the programme immediately at a heavily subsidised rate. The amount of money raised to support the programme will see more of the kit offered on a fully funded basis with each passing year.

Golf Foundation 2

Donate To Win

In order to help raise funds for the campaign, Nick Dougherty has helped to create a special golfing incentive for the whole golf community – as every golfer at whatever their level will have the chance to earn, win or play their way to the Unleash Your Drive Final at Wentworth Club in August 2024, with the money raised helping more young people from all backgrounds to access the programme in their school.

The Unleash Your Drive Final itself will see 72 golfers play on the West Course at Wentworth Club, with Dougherty hosting the Final on the day. The three best performers at the final will then earn one of three spots in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am in 2024, alongside some of the biggest names in world golf.

The Golf Foundation is encouraging all golfers to enter monthly draws or fundraise for the initiative with the incentive of earning spots at Wentworth Club, while in May 2024 there will be a special month-long campaign where anyone can play golf and donate £10 in order to be in with a chance to win a spot in this incredible event. The top performers at the end of the month will be invited to the Unleash Your Drive Final at Wentworth Club, and the initiative will hopefully help to get more people out and active on the golf course.

Every gift received helps get golf into another school, and improves the mental wellbeing for another child.

The Golf Foundation

Unleash Your Drive is the latest campaign from the Golf Foundation, the charity now in its 72nd year that introduces young people to golf from all backgrounds, creating golfers. The charity’s team does this because golf can change lives.

Last year, they introduced golf to over 225,000 youngsters in schools, community groups and clubs across GB&I, thanks to the support from their partners at The R&A and all of the home nations, as well as sponsors including HSBC and FootJoy.

Nick Dougherty became the Golf Foundation’s President in 2021, and the Unleash Your Drive campaign for schools has been a focus from the start.

“I would love golf on the curriculum,” explains Dougherty. “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!”

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