A new 16+ initiative is being introduced all over Surrey.

But before our hard-pressed students react in horror at the thought of another exam, this Surrey Golf Partnership scheme is driven by the need to get more people into the sport.

It was initially envisaged to attract young men and women, aged 16 to 24, the age-range where a huge proportion are lost to the game.

"We do really well recruiting youngsters, especially with the tremendous success of our Rookie Golf Tour which caters for boys and girls from eight to 16," said County Development Officer Richard Shaw.

"Like other sports, however, we start to lose them when the competing demands of A-levels, university, new jobs and relationships become more pressing.E In a bid to win back more than 600 of them, the Partnership have linked up with 11 clubs across the county. The scheme has been spearheaded by World of Golf at Kingston and Croydon and is also being rolled out at Epsom, Hoebridge (Old Woking), Addington Court, Pine Ridge, Betchworth Park, Horne Park (Godstone), Bramley, Merrist Wood and Clandon Regis.

All the centres offer the students free use of their driving range and six free lessons, while World of Golf are also donating a free seven iron.

The scheme has now been widened to include golf returnees, often in their 40s, who dropped out in their teens to pursue education, career or family life, but now have the appetite and time to take it up again.

"We want to make sure that we make this scheme work on a really solid basis," said Shaw. "That is why we aim to stick to our original 11 clubs for the moment. If there is increased interest and funding we may invite other clubs to join in a couple of years."

Anyone who wants more information or guidance on which is their best local venue can call Richard Shaw on 07969 213865, or view more details on the website: www.surreygolfpartnership.com