All You Need to Know About Family Golf at the Troon Golf Academy at Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai
The Troon Golf Academy at Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai is an exceptional teaching facility in the UAE, with fantastic technology, indoor teaching studios and PGA Teaching Professionals to facilitate everyone on their journey into golf. Family and enabling family participation in golf is a big part of that so it’s no surprise that their Junior Development Programme is very popular; we spoke to David Laing, Head PGA Professional about the program, why he thinks it has been so successful and what they do to encourage, support and nurture the next generation of golfers.
How did you get in to golf?
My older brother played in the Scotland squad when I was younger and that inspired me to play. I then joined Craigielaw Golf Club in East Lothian, Scotland. The club were very supportive of junior players and gave them all the opportunity they could to play practice and compete. I think that’s partly where my motivation to support junior golf comes from.
You’re the Head PGA Professional at Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai; tell us about your time there?
I have been coaching at the Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai since 2015 and in my time at the academy, I have overseen the running of the ladies development program and then the running of the Junior Development Programme.
At the academy, we coach golfers of all levels from beginner to top-level amateur and have the opportunity to spend time with the European Tour professionals who spend time at the academy during the season. Working with such a variety of golfers gives the team great coaching experience and is exciting to be part of.
Tell us a bit about the Troon Golf Academy at Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai?
The academy has a driving range, 9-hole par 3 course, and indoor studio facilities. We are able to provide a coaching experience to suit all golfer’s requirements and abilities. From the first time hitting a ball to an in-depth game analysis using our indoor swing studio. The par 3 also works fantastically well as a short game facility during our lessons, allowing golfers to develop any shot imaginable.
We pride ourselves on our group program, which is designed to suit all levels of players and has options for men’s, ladies, and junior groups. Our 8-week semester delivers structured coaching sessions developing swing technique, all aspects of short game, and playing lessons.
For participants in our group program, we also run a series of competitions and events including our academy championships.
What’s the Junior Development Programme?
Our Junior Development Programme runs in 8 week semesters. During each semester we cover functional movement & skill development warm ups, swing technique, short game technique, swing & short game skill development, performance testing and on course playing lessons.
Our age range runs from age 3-5 (kindergarten) 6-8 (Emerald) 9-12 (Sapphire) 13-17 (Black Pearl)
We also have Troon Advanced classes in place for the most advanced players in each group creating a special learning environment for the highly motivated players.
An exciting part of our Junior Development Programme is the competition structure. For our juniors we have regular OOM competitions with a weekly par 3, 9-hole competition and 9-hole OOM running on the championship course. We also host a junior matchplay championship on the par 3 and championship course which brings a lot of excitement each season.
Giving the opportunity for juniors to compete in these events, in team matches and many of the other events help the juniors develop onto higher levels of play but also have a great time playing the game with their peers.
At the Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai, becoming a member of the club has become enticing with great support from the club and membership. We offer various options that combine golf lessons and club membership allowing juniors to develop their game, play regularly on the course and compete in member events.
A new concept brought in by the membership is our mentorship program where members who take an active role in the club are mentoring juniors and playing alongside them in club events.
How many kids are in the programme?
During the peak season our Junior Development Programme has around 240 participants ranging from age 3-17 learning to play each week. Our regular par 3 course competition has 30 – 40 juniors who play weekly on a Friday evening. Having a regular group of players competing each week creates a great social yet competitive environment.
What makes the program special? What sets you apart from other golf courses and their junior program?
Our junior program gives a balance of opportunity for all students. That may be those who are discovering the game, enjoying the social side and creating friendships. We also have plenty of opportunity for juniors who are looking to compete.
As a coaching team we are really proud of the atmosphere created at the academy by the many families who are learning together. We have many families and friends who socialize, play and learn together creating an environment that is a pleasure to work within as a coaching team.
What’s the youngest participant you have had in the programme?
We run a kindergarten class from age 3-5 which is always full of energy and excitement. Most recently, during Troon Family Golf Month, one of our 5-year-old golfers that loves the game introduced his 2-year-old sister to his lessons and she is having a great time playing and creating challenges.
Have you had any long time Junior participants that have really excelled over the years?
We are fortunate to have many juniors that have been loyal students of the academy over several years. Many have excelled within academy and club level events.
Our junior team matches along with, UAEPGA series and US Kids series have been superb for gaining experience out with the comfort zone of the home club.
The constant opportunity to play competitions has lead us to have junior players playing international in the South African, European and world US Kids Championships.
It is all very exciting to see how far we can help the juniors of the Montgomerie take their games in the future.
How do you make golf fun for the juniors that come to Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai?
When coaching junior classes, it is important that we are relatable to the juniors, although that might just be our excuse to have as much fun as the kids do! As a collective effort from the 6 coaches in the team we all contribute our own themes, games and challenges to keep our group lessons fresh with captivating content.
A nice touch for the juniors in the academy is the academy golf shirt we give to all the participants and in the coming season we will be adding Troon Golf Academy cap also.
How do you incorporate parents and family members into the programme?
We incorporate family members in a few different ways. We often give individual lessons with parents and children together. During the weekly par 3 competitions, we have many parents that enjoy walking with their kids. Our parents and child event went great this season with a bbq on the driving range which was an exciting event.
One of the best experiences that many of the parents have mentioned is when they drive their kids around the championship course in the 9-hole OOM. It is always a special experience watching their kids play their first games on the championship course and nice to have 2 hours of bonding time together.
Why do you think it’s important to grow the game amongst junior golfers?
It is a pleasure to see so many juniors having a great time learning to play golf at the academy. I know how much it meant to me as a junior player to have support and opportunities to play and I think that may be where some of my inspiration to coach juniors comes from.
On a larger scale more than just having fun, golf teaches so many life skills that can help kids mature and develop strong character traits into the future. For those who would like to pursue a future at an elite level, the fundamental skills developed as a junior will help carry them forward in the right direction.