Lancashire in running for county of year title

A golf club brought back from the brink of closure and an exciting new sports village at the heart of an industrial town are just two of the projects that have put Lancashire in the running for a national award.

It has been nominated in the County of the Year category of the England Golf Awards to be announced at a glittering gala evening at Lord’s cricket ground on Thursday.

Lancashire’s success in reaching the final group alongside Warwickshire  has been built on a united campaign of support for the county’s golf facilities involving the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, Lancashire County Ladies Golf Association, the Professional Golfers Association and the Golf Foundation.

They have worked under the umbrella of an England Golf county development group, delivering a wide range of activities to encourage new players into the sport, while also helping clubs retain existing members and build robust business plans for the future.

Support for the nomination came from a variety of sources, including Fairfield Golf and Sailing Club in Manchester and Burnley Leisure.

Carole Phillips, secretary at the Audenshaw club, said: “Fairfield Golf and Sailing Club is one of the oldest established in the Manchester area, dating back to 1892.

“Recently threatened with closure because of plans for industrial redevelopment, a long expensive legal battle ensued – including two public inquiries and trips to the High Court.  That is now behind us.

“The invaluable help, advise and support of England Golf’s development officers has been vital in helping our club make the necessary changes and introduce the new ideas and processes needed to ensure we are equipped to tackle today’s modern golfing environment and take a more commercial approach.”

Burnley Leisure launched the Praire Sports Village 12 months ago, providing a multi-sports facility to the local community including a driving range, teaching studio and short game area alongside 3g soccer pitches.

Head of development Paul Foster said: “The county development officers have supported our project right from the outset, recognising the opportunity to work collaboratively with other sports for the mutual benefit of sports participation while attracting new people to the game of golf in a non-traditional setting.”

The Lancashire Golf Development Group also hosted three successful county conferences providing education, motivation and support for clubs adopting a more business-like approach.

Phil Harvey, county secretary for the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, said: “We believe these were the catalyst for change as clubs have embraced this new approach.

“The Lancashire network we have established working alongside our two England Golf county development officers – Adam McAlister and Debbie Barber – means we can tap into a treasure trove of knowledge, tools and resources to ensure our golf facilities have the best chance to thrive.”

Harvey believes Lancashire has shown itself to be an innovative county.

He added: “We are open to new ideas having organised funding and social media workshops, Golf Foundation and Get into golf roadshows and are continually growing the number of golf development and club networks.”

On the playing side, a calendar of events, training and coaching is helping players at every level from beginner to elite, with the Lancashire Girls’ Golf Association boasting 130 members and more than 200 boys passing through the junior talent development programme.

Other highlights of the past 12 months include:

  • Seventy-nine clubs, 195 teams and 600 plus individuals entering ladies’ competitions organised by the Association’s team of volunteers with more than 500 ladies attending networking events.
  • Lancashire men’s seniors enjoying success as the 2016 English County Champions.
  • Forty-six Lancashire clubs signed up as Junior Golf Passport users.
  • The Lancashire PGA delivering a record number of Pro–Am events during the season, with more than 1,200 players and professional participation up 50 per cent on 2015.
  • 4,000 subscribers are signed up to the free Lancashire County Card scheme.
  • £10k has been awarded to help kick start 18 projects from the Union’s small grants scheme.
  • The Innovation Awards scheme has rewarded clubs’ great ideas and initiatives they are using to grow the game.




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