TOP golfer Lee Westwood was hoping to inspire the future Open champions when he taught youngsters at a club in Northumberland yesterday.
Westwood, who is a professional at Close House golf course at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, yesterday launched his own golfing academy at eight venues across the country.
The recent world number one gave expert tuition to 46 youngsters aged from six to 16 at Close House, saying the project is his attempt at “putting something back into the game”.
“I get asked all the time to do things for charity,” the Worksop-born Ryder Cup regular said as he walked from an advice session to a signing session at the Tyne Valley hotel course.
“But this is putting something back into the game for the future.
“I formed the academy three years ago with the management company Activate Sport, and it’s a great way of raising the standard of youngsters coming into the game.
“We get a really good response from them, too. There are 46 kids here at Close House today, and there are 300 nationally getting top-level coaching.”
He added: “It’s really important to get the basics right with proper coaching. Once you’ve got the basics right, it’s a game that everyone can enjoy, and that’s the most important thing.”
It is a busy time for Westwood, with the USPGA Championship looming in a crowded schedule that culminates with the 2012 Ryder Cup in Illinois at the end of September.
But in the midst of that, he is determined to find the time to push forward his academy coaching programme.
“I am very proud of my academy and the opportunity it presents for young golfers, “ he said. “It gives me a great deal of satisfaction in putting something back into golf because as professionals you take an awful lot out of the game.
“The academies cover the whole spectrum and this is a great way to get started in the game.”
For eight-year-old Cayla Davidson, of Cramlington, Northumberland, meeting Westwood was a highlight of her early golfing life.
Her father Chris, a member at Arcot Hall golf course, said: “Cayla has been playing for 18 months and is doing really well. So I agree totally with Lee Westwood when he says this is a good way of bringing youngsters into the game.
“It’s the future of the game, and it’s been excellent from what I’ve seen of it so far.”
Westwood knows something about youthful golfing achievements. He turned pro in 1993 after winning the British Youth Championship, which followed the Nottinghamshire county youth title he won at the age of 15.
Although he has yet to win a major, Westwood marked up his 40th worldwide pro victory with the Nordea Scandinavian Masters in June.