Heysham GC lands innovation award

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Tony McMunn (centre left), a past president of the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, presents the winner’s cheque for £750 to Phil Foster, the Heysham president, surrounded by other club officials involved in the award-winning initiative

A Lancashire club with an ambitious approach to encouraging more people into golf has earned an award for its efforts. Heysham has won the top prize in the Lancashire Union of Golf Club’s Innovation Awards.

This is the second year for the awards which seek to recognise clubs taking a proactive and innovative approach to attracting new players, retaining more members and building a strong organisation. Heysham will receive £750 towards future projects to promote the sport.

It launched a series of initiatives aimed at promoting golf over the past 12 months, including investing heavily in new practice facilities which could be used not only by members but by visiting golfers or local residents.

As well as allowing regular players to practice throughout the year, the Swing Lounge and short game area are used to help those returning to the sport or absolute beginners, while it is also wheelchair friendly.

With the help of Sport England Inspired Facilities funding and investment from Clubfit Golf, the club has benefited from £100,000 worth of improvements with the short game area including synthetic mats and greens to allow year-round use. It features two chipping greens, with eight chipping stations and a bunker, while the slopes of the large putting surface challenge players of all abilities. A pitching area allows players to try finding the green from distances up to 100 yards.

The Swing Lounge includess an indoor golf simulator which allows players to tackle a variety of courses from around the world.

It was opened by European Senior Tour player Gary Wolstenholme, a former England amateur international, who conducted a short game clinic at an event attended by 200 people, including local MP David Morris.

The new facilities support the existing floodlit driving range.

PGA professionals Ryan Done and Trevor Newsham,  who were supported in the development by course manager Dave Hutchinson, his team and the club as a whole, have been visiting local schools and hosting Tri-golf events with local community groups in the north Lancashire area.

Activities have included a golf festival for more than 120 primary school pupils, while Heysham High, Morecambe High andMorecambe Road schools regularly visit the club for group coaching sessions.

The club hosts the local Mencap group every week and has staged “Learn to play golf in a day” sessions alongside longer, five-week Get into golf programmes.

General manager Ed Burrow said: “The facility has been received brilliantly, not just by members but everyone from the surrounding areas, both golfers and non-golfers.  Numbers of new visitors have increased considerably,

“All of the activity at the club has increased the visibility and access to golf around the local area and to the general public.  Membership has increased as a direct impact of the improved facilities and the outreach programmes conducted by the club professionals.”

St Helens club Grange Park received £350 after launching the 125 Club to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

The club  had been running ladies’ taster sessions since 2015 but found that while many of those taking part were interested in taking their golf further, the demands of family and work life were an obstacle.

Anne Morris,  one of the 125 Club organiserss alongside Jean Quigley, said: “The ladies who attended the Tasters typically had no previous knowledge of golf, or family/close friends who were golfers.

“The majority of them worked full time. From our discussions we knew that they felt that they did not have the time available, or the competence, to justify joining a golf club.

“So the seed for a ‘125th Anniversary Membership’ was sown. This new category of membership provides the means for beginner ladies to join Grange Park and receive organised support to develop their game. The subscription rate reflects the limited amount of golf that beginner ladies will play.”

To mark the anniversary, the membership fee was pitched at just £1.25 per day and included five free group coaching sessions with PGA professional Paul Roberts

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A group of the participants and organisers of the Grange Park 125 Club initiative, including professional Paul Roberts

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