Wednesday, May 28, 2008

U.S. Kids Golf European Championship: the World’s Youngest Players on the World’s Oldest Links

BUSINESS WIRE--The U.S. Kids Golf European Championship teed off today in Gullane, Scotland, with more than 480 kids aged seven through 14 from 34 countries competing in the birthplace of golf. The tournament, the first U.S. Kids Golf competition held outside the United States, runs through Friday.

Yesterdays opening ceremony in the Concorde Hanger at the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian, part of the golf coast near the Scottish capitol of Edinburgh, paid tribute to the international nature of the event, with 34 representatives bearing a flag from each of their respective countries.

The tournament is spread over five courses in East Lothian, with a specific age group playing the same course throughout the event. Players are divided by age, with boys competing in brackets by ages seven through 14, and girls divided into brackets by ages eight through 14.

The culmination of the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship will be the Van Horn Cup on Friday. Modeled after the famed Ryder Cup tournament that matches a team of Europeans against Americans, the Van Horn Cup pits teams of European players against teams composed of players from outside of Europe.

Gullane Golf Club in East Lothian is serving as the host course for the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship. Built in 1898, Gullane has been a qualifying venue for the British Open Championship, with a stunning view across Aberlady Bay to Edinburgh, where the first recorded game of golf was played in 1452. The beautiful Scottish countryside surrounding the courses is steeped in golf's traditions. A course in nearby North Berwick hosts the worlds oldest junior tournament, established in 1868. The U.S. Kids Golf European Championship is also being played on nearby courses in Craigielaw, Kilspindie, and Luffness New.

Although the game itself will be familiar, young players will see a few differences. The big bunkers and windy conditions on Scottish courses can be a challenge. In Scotland, golf is treated a little more formally than in the United States. Jackets and ties are required for clubhouse entry, and denim, cargo shorts, and tennis shoes are a definite no-no. Players are also expected to remove hats and caps when entering clubhouses.

The U.S. Kids Golf European Championship is the first of many planned regional championships around the world. U.S. Kids Golf is committed to growing the game and eventually hopes to reach one million youngsters across the globe.

U.S. Kids Golf is the largest producer of junior golf equipment for ages 14 and under in the world. At the time of its founding, golf clubs for smaller swings were typically adult clubs cut down and retrofitted for children. The heavier weight made the clubs more difficult to handle, hurting developing swings and discouraging budding players. U.S. Kids Golf clubs are 30 percent lighter, generating the faster club speed needed for quick improvement in young hands.

After the company was launched, it expanded from its product line into instruction and tournament sponsorship. Holding its first tournament in 2000 with 250 players, U.S. Kids Golf continued growing to more than 400 events each year, with the 2007 World Championship bringing more than 1,100 players from 34 countries.

To U.S. Kids Golf, the sport is more than a game. Golf is a metaphor for life, a way to teach patience, discipline, and how to overcome adversity. Golf also brings families together in a common pursuit that can provide opportunities to teach values like honesty and integrity. At U.S. Kids Golf events, parents and grandparents serve as caddies. Behavior standards are enforced by officials. The U.S. Kids Golf European Championship is the first step in that commitment.

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