22 Jun 2023 | Participation |

Roadshow gives remote NT kids a taste of golf

by Australian Golf Media

NT roadshow image
The roadshow in the Northern Territory covered five remote schools.

By Jim Tucker

When a young Aboriginal boy swung a golf club for the first time at remote Tennant Creek and struck the ball perfectly, the look of wonderment spread across two faces.

In moments like that, Golf Australia’s Brodie Morcom knew the six-day roadshow he’d embarked on to remote communities of the Northern Territory was a winner.

So did the 11-year-old boy who’d curiously picked up a cut-down seven iron and clipped the ball 70 metres off a synthetic turf mat at the school oval.

“The kids trying golf had some great reactions but the looks of wonder were more on my face,” said Morcom, GA’s Relationship Manager (Northern Territory).

“Seeing such natural talent for ball sports, of all kinds, is such a rare thing. You’re showing some kids once and they just get it.

“That grade five boy at Tennant Creek Primary School literally saw me hit it once, copied and hit his ball nearly perfectly.

“After one shot, he said ‘I like golf. I want to play it’.”

It was a little more gold found in a remote town famous in gold mining’s peak days.

Those joyful reactions are instantaneous and even fleeting. The reality is that providing school equipment packs and access to a golf course is the only way natural shows of talent can be turned into a fuller connection to golf.

On the recent roadshow, more than 300 kids were introduced to the game when Morcom drove out of Darwin for Pine Creek School, Mataranka School, Elliott School, Tennant Creek Primary School and Tennant Creek High School.

He did a novel collaboration with hockey as a wise way to minimise costs. Morcom covered 2000 kilometres with clubs, soft rubber balls and tee mats rolled out from the back of his white ute for 17 clinics in all.

Those clinics were held on school ovals, on basketball courts and even in the gym of Tennant Creek High School.

“We wanted to go to schools that sometimes get missed in remote communities. Golf and hockey are two sports that nearly all of the kids had never experienced and we wanted to provide a different opportunity to footy or basketball,” Morcom said.

“You don’t understand how an hour with kids can be life-changing. I really felt the value when a schoolteacher told me that one grade three girl who didn’t get involved with sports took to golf and hockey. She had a go and that’s what the My Golf schools program is all about,” Morcom said.

Even kids speaking only in the tongue of the Warumungu people left Morcom and Hockey NT Growth and Inclusion Co-ordinator Dominic Sloane in no doubt how they felt.

“Kids speaking in their local language would give a hug and express ‘thank you.’ You realise that a positive experience stays with them because some of the kids in Tennant Creek remembered I’d been to their school three years before with touch football,” Morcom related.

Morcom’s important follow-up was a meeting with Tennant Creek Golf Club which welcomed the idea of getting kids involved in an introductory junior golf program.

“A great sign has been receiving a request from one school to make up an equipment pack and a couple of schools now being eager to include golf as a fourth-term activity,” Morcom said.

Morcom is already planning another roadshow, potentially in August to Nhulunbuy, the birthplace of top pro Anthony Quayle, the Queensland PGA champion in January, 2022. Alice Springs and Katherine are also on the horizon.

Successful Aboriginal amateur Skye Lampton, who played at the Australian Amateur in Sydney earlier this year, is originally from Katherine. The prospect of her joining clinics in that town is exciting.

“Of all the kids I met, there was only one golfer a very few knew of…Tiger Woods,” Morcom said.

“It would be great to have Skye involved as a role model.”

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