Lancashire women to the fore

THE drive to encourage more women into golf is paying dividends in Lancashire. New figures show that the decline in numbers has been reversed and a major campaign has resulted in an increase  numbers to 1.5 per cent in its first 12 months.

A ground-breaking conference looking at increasing the number of girls and women playing golf got the ball rolling last year with industry experts offering advice across a range of subjects including marketing, customer experience, social media and what young women are looking for from golf.

The work has been further supported by a number of county partners, including the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, the Lancashire Ladies County Golf Association, the Lancashire Golf Development Group, the Golf Foundation and the Professional Golfers Association.

Debbie Barber, a former county golf development officer, was appointed to help co-ordinate the work going on at individual clubs and has been delighted by their response and support.

One example of the work going on as part of the campaign can be found at Blackley Golf Club  at Middleton which has delivered a new Ladies into Golf programme, developing a four-step pathway into the sport.

This included taster sessions to attract newcomers to the game, and further coaching for beginners and improvers. Ten women have joined on a 12-month membership deal with club members making them welcome by providing starter packs along with donations of clubs, bags and balls to make it even easier to get started.

The club has also supported the new players with a group of ‘golfing buddies’ to help get them out on the course.

Debbie said: “The success of the plan has been the result of strong leadership and great team work, with the full support of everyone at the club. The donations from members have been greatly appreciated by the new ladies, providing them with the basics to get started.

“There has been a real buzz around the club with positive comments and offers of help from all sections.

“However it would not have been possible without the club’s band of ‘golfing buddies’, who  turned  up to every lesson and practice session over the beginners’ 16-week programme  to support the club’s new friends and get them out onto the course.

“Their commitment and enthusiasm and, of course, support from the club professional secured a fabulous outcome for Blackley.”

Phil Harvey, secretary of the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, said: “Once again we have been delighted by the support of the clubs to our plans to increase female membership and participation. The hard work going on to show the many health and social benefits of golf have been rewarded with an increase in numbers that is helping sustain the long-term future of our clubs.”

Blackley received a grant of £300 from Lancashire Golf, which the club matched.

The 2019 programme gets underway on March 30 (2pm).

Further details on how your club can get involved in the drive to encourage more women and girls into golf can be obtained from Debbie Barber on 07518 564 113 or by emailing dbarber@lancashiregolf.org

Lancashire’s drive to get more people playing golf has seen the county nominated in the 2019 England Golf awards, sponsored by adidasGolf.

The Lancashire team are bidding to secure a double success, having been crowned County of the Year at the 2017 awards. This time round they will face competition from Wiltshire when the winners are revealed at a gala dinner in London this month.

Across the board, the county is bucking the national trend with a total membership increase in 2017 of just over 1 per cent against a nationwide decline of 2 per cent on is on the back of a 4 per cent increase in 2016.

 

 

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Bid to attract youngsters to golf

A NEW guide to help golf clubs gain greater understanding of young people and to attract them into the sport has been produced by England Golf.

The potential is huge: England Golf research shows that in 2017, 67% of all young people took part in some form of golf activity. That’s about 5.35 million youngsters in England.

But at the same time, they’re turning their backs on golf clubs and traditional junior memberships are dropping.

Understanding Your Junior Market has been created to help reverse the trend. It forms part of a raft of measures identified in the wider national Children and Young People Plan “Growing the Game for the Future” which is supported by the Golf Foundation and the Professional Golfers’ Association.

 

The guide highlights ways to find out what young people want from golf and golf clubs – and what could put them off. It uses the specially created profiles of seven different types of youngster to show how they and their parents view golf.

 

A supporting video and online training are available to show clubs how to use the profiles to understand their current juniors and their families, create activities to attract new players, develop retention plans to keep their interest and market these successfully.

 

Lee Dolby, England Golf’s Young People Manager, commented: “Attracting young people in to golf is essential for the future of golf clubs and, to do that successfully, they need a better understanding of what young people want from their golfing experience.

“One size definitely does not fit all. Young people change faster than at any other time in life and what appeals to a six-year-old may not be right for a 16-year-old. But, many clubs still just offer one version of junior golf.

“We need to think about the individuals, their motivations and the barriers they encounter. Traditional membership is dropping among young people; that doesn’t mean they don’t want to belong and feel part of a club, it does mean they don’t like what clubs are offering.

“We want to work with clubs to create new and exciting ways to engage young people and inspire a love of golf which will last a lifetime.”

Emily Furniss, from Gaudet Luce Golf Club in Worcestershire is a Young Ambassador for England Golf and the Golf Foundation, and has written a message to clubs in the guide.

She comments: “Not everyone wants to be the next Rory McIlroy, some young people just want to belong, to make friends or play for fun. So listening to the opinions and needs of the next generation of golfers will broaden the appeal of the game.

“This booklet is a great starting place for clubs to understand their young customers and we hope you’ll use it to take positive steps to get more young people into golf.”

The new guide complements England Golf’s wider package of support for clubs, Understanding Your Market. This helps clubs retain members and identify potential new members by focusing on what their customers want.

Dave leaves his rivals ‘green’ with envy!

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TOP SHOTS: Martyn Hamer, Nick Cook, Dave Green and Ollie Pantoja

MANCHESTER Alliance captain Dave Green (Dukinfield GC) kept up his 100 per cent record of no postponements during the season at Bramall Park.

Ollie Pantoja (Ashton-on-Mersey) posted 42 points to hold off a strong challenge from Graham Cox (Lymm) and Martyn Hamer (Davyhulme Park) who tied on 41.

And Hamer joined forces with clubmate Derrick Page who helped him to 48 points to top clinch the  pro-am, two ahead of Ollie Pantoja and Charlie Rodgers (Pike Fold) and Andy Palmer (Chorley) and Vinny Doyle (Leigh).

Meawnhile, Accrington duo Anthony Wilson and Phil Mayer set a record by becoming the first pair from their club to win an Alliance competition.

They kept up their momentum in the am-am with back-to-back wins, totting up 45 points to finish two clear of Martin Dwyer (Stamford) and Richard Margrove (Stand) who won a a card play-off from Mick Holmes (Cheadle) and Andy Hall (Chorlton).

The Alliance event scheduled for Vale Royal Abbey on March 13 has been switched to Chorley.

Lancashire nominated for top award

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SPOT THE STAR: Former Lancashire  player Tommy Fleetwood –  number 14 in the world – with members of the county boys’ training squads when the Ryder Cup star shared some of his lessons from his formative years 

 

LANCASHIRE clubs are hoping their support for the drive to get more people playing golf will help land a prestigious national award.

The county has been nominated in the 2019 England Golf awards, sponsored byadidasGolf.

The  team are bidding to secure a double success, having been crowned County of the Year at the 2017 awards. This time round they will face competition from Wiltshire when the winners are revealed at a gala dinner in London in March.

County golf officials have been delighted by the support shown by the region’s 157 golf-related facilities, which has seen a wide range of projects to grow the game across Lancashire.

As a result, the county is bucking the national trend with a total membership increase in 2017 of just over 1% against a nationwide decline of 2%. This is on the back of a 4% increase in 2016.

And county organisers have praised clubs for being prepared to embrace a new approach to wooing the next generation of golfers.

Projects included a ground-breaking conference looking at increasing the number of girls and women playing golf, which saw industry experts offer advice across a range of subjects including marketing, customer experience, social media and what young women are looking for from golf.

Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs secretary Phil Harvey said: “Lancashire is a county which understands the complex barriers to participating in golf. Combining the strength, skills and experience of its partners it has capitalised on the ‘County of the Year Award’ 2017 to reinforce its position as leader in the quest to tackle those barriers.

“Our successful county conference and follow up initiatives – hailed as the ‘flagship’ for driving participation of women and girls – provided education, motivation and support.”

The award nomination brings together the work of a number of partners, including the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, the Lancashire Ladies County Golf Association, the Lancashire Golf Development Group, the Golf Foundation and the Professional Golfers Association.

They have set out a vision for the county which pledges “for the golf bodies in Lancashire to strengthen their relationship and play a key role in getting more people playing the game and developing talented individuals.

“The course for action provides a focus for the passion, determination and enthusiasm of the thousands of our paid and unpaid ‘guardians’ of golf to deliver.”

The figures make impressive reading as Lancashire has promoted golf on national TV and radio, as well as at community events, meaning 111 people with disabilities have been helped into golf programmes, while more than 1,200 children have been offered a way into the sport.

New initiatives generated an estimated £190,000 in new business between April and September last year, while clubs have been supported to call on more than £616,000 in investment to secure their long-term futures.

Lancashire has recently appointed a new Director of Coaching to overhaul its entire coaching programme while strengthening its admin team over the past few years, adding experience in key areas such as marketing, finance, business development and club management to the committee structure.

More than 200 boys and 96 girls are on junior talent development programmes. Other developments included new software to help counties collect fees and membership details, which is now used by 30 of the 34 counties in England, while 5,700 players subscribe to the free Lancashire County Card scheme.

 

Lancs & Wilts go head to head in title bid

LANCASHIRE and Wiltshire are going head to head in the contest to be named England Golf’s County of the Year.

They’re the finalists in the battle for the title and the winner will be announced at the England Golf Awards, sponsored by adidas Golf, on Thursday 21 March.

The glittering black tie event will be hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker on Thursday, 21 March, at the Royal Lancaster London.

The counties are of contrasting size, Lancashire has 157 clubs; Wiltshire represents 26. But both put their clubs and their players at the centre of all they do.

England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink commented: “Both these counties must be congratulated for their commitment to their players and their clubs – and to encouraging more people to take up the game. It’s going to be a very tight close contest between two worthy opponents.”

Lancashire won England Golf’s County of the Year Award in 2017. Now, it’s back as a 2019 finalist, having pushed on with its drive to break down barriers and to put players and clubs at the heart of all it does.

Its vision is for all the golf bodies in Lancashire to work closely together to get more people playing, to develop talented golfers and to improve the image of the game. It comments in its nomination: “We recognise that change is required to appeal to the next generation of golfers and we lead the way in promoting this.”

The result is a continuing increase in membership; extensive support for its clubs, including help to recruit more women and girls and to access investment; and large numbers of people encouraged to try the game, from school children to those with disabilities.

The successes of Tommy Fleetwood and Sophie Lamb help to inspire the county’s ambitious amateurs whose outstanding successes in 2018 included Trevor Foster’s victory in the British Senior Championship, Lancashire’s win in the English Senior Men’s County Championship and the boys’ team triumph in the Four Counties’ Championship.

Wiltshire is one of the smallest counties in England with 26 clubs, but it aims to always punch above its weight, both on and off the golf course.

It won the English Men’s County Championship in 2011 and 2012 and the Boys’ Championship in 2015 and 2016 – and now it’s at the forefront of the modernisation of the governance of county golf.

The men’s and women’s county organisations unified in 2018 to become one body, Wiltshire Golf, working for the benefit of the amateur game.

The results include holding the affiliation fee at the 2017 level, growing support for county competitions and the introduction of new mixed events. It has a strong focus on junior golf with 120 boys and girls in last year’s squads, it launched a development tour for children with high or no handicaps; and it’s involved with the Girls Golf Rocks campaign.

The county now has a business plan, reflecting input from the Wiltshire clubs, and a range of initiatives are due to start this year.

It says in its nomination: ”Wiltshire has never forgotten that the organisation is in existence to serve the interests of the clubs and players.”

  • Tickets for the England Golf Awards Tickets cost just £90 per person and include a drinks reception and a three-course dinner with wine. Visit englandgolfawards.org to book

 

 

The BIGGA the better at Royal Port Rush

THE British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association has unveiled the line-up for the volunteer support team that will be heading to Northern Ireland for the first time ever as The Open Championship tales place at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The BIGGA members who have gained a place on the team are given unprecedented access to golf’s greatest championship and they will assist with maintaining bunker presentation throughout the duration of the tournament.

Each year The R&A requests BIGGA’s assistance with the championship, meaning BIGGA members have been on hand to witness some of the greatest moments in the history of the game, including Francesco Molinari’s incredible bogey-free final round in difficult circumstances that brought Italy its first major championship in 2018.

The 62 bunkers that will be in play is the lowest total of any current Open venue, but the team members will hope players stay out of Royal Portrush’s famous Big Nellie bunker, measuring a massive 25-feet high, which has been recreated on the 7th hole.

Every Full BIGGA greenkeeper member is eligible to apply for a place on the team, but with The Open being hosted on Irish shores for the first time since 1951, there is a large contingent of Irish and Northern Irish members who have joined the team.

Among them is Aaron Small, course manager at Belvoir Park in Belfast, who will be joining the support team for the first time in 10 years.

Aaron, 42, said: “The Open is brilliant for Northerm Ireland in general, but as a golfer and a greenkeeper, it’s the ultimate. When I found out I was on the team I was absolutely elated, I couldn’t be happier.

“For a golfer at my club to say to me ‘will you be watching The Open?’ and I can turn around and say ‘no, I’m working at it!’ will blow them away. It might not be a big role in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just great to be able to play your part.”

Members of the support team may also be called upon at short notice to assist Course Manager Graeme Beatt and his team with early morning preparation work and divoting duties. With early tee times and golf being played until nightfall, the week is intense and physically-demanding. But it’s also an opportunity to get inside the ropes at this once-in-a-generation tournament.

BIGGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Croxton said: “Excitement is building for The Open at Royal Portrush and having spoken to Course Manager Graeme Beatt, I know he’s looking forward to welcoming the BIGGA members to the course for the duration of the event.

“Royal Portrush is going to be a stern challenge for the world’s best golfers and I’m delighted that BIGGA members have played such a vital role in preparing the course. Graeme and his team have been working hard for a number of years to ensure the Dunluce is in world class condition, with a lot of restructuring and course improvement taking place. The pressure to perform will never be higher, but they’re a fantastic example of what a talented, passionate team can achieve.

“The Open is a long week and everyone works extremely hard, but the rewards are incredible. Everyone at BIGGA is looking forward to giving our all to make sure the 148th Open is a tremendous success.”

The BIGGA Volunteer Open Support Team will be provided with accommodation, food, refeshments and uniform for the event.

The 148th Open Championship is on July 18 – 21 July.

 

Four-way tie as Alliance get into gear

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ON THE BALL: Mark Smith, Darren Bidwell, Olly Smith and Ollie Whiteley

THE Manchester and District Golf Alliance began the second half of its winter season at Hart Common with a full field.

And they maintained the 100 per cent record of captain Dukinfield’s Dave  Green  of no postponements during his year of office.

Top individual pro spot shared by Olly Smith (Ashton-on-Mersey) and Ollie Whiteley (Bramall Park) both on 40 points, one ahead of  Andy Palmer (Chorley).

It was also close in the pro-am with three pairs locked on 44 points, Stamford pro Mark Smith and Brookdale partner Darren Bidwell prevailing on countback.

Am-am winners were Charles Herbert (Styal) and Ross Birch (Northenden) with 44 points.