Archive for January, 2019

Exceptional volunteers are awards finalists

EXCEPTIONAL members from four clubs who inspire children and new players to have a great golfing experience have been shortlisted for England Golf’s Volunteer of the Year Award

Lancashire’s Mark Feeney has revitalised a junior section. Berkshire’s Susanne Lesley and Owen Davis have smoothed the way for more than 200 new members. Cheshire’s Judith Sandford has given a new lease of life to her club’s ladies’ section. And Newmarket’s Marcella Tuttle is combatting dwindling women’s membership.

England Golf chief executive Nick Pink said: “These volunteers are quite exceptional. They put in countless hours to help other people have a great golfing experience and our game is the richer for them, and the many thousands of other volunteers across England who do the same.”

The winner will be announced at the England Golf Awards 2019, sponsored by adidas Golf, on  March 21. The glittering black tie event will be hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker at the Royal Lancaster London. Tickets cost £90 per person and include a drinks reception and a three-course dinner with wine.

The finalists:

Mark Feeney has transformed the junior section at West Derby Golf Club in Liverpool in just a couple of years.

Despite having a full-time job and a young family of his own, he’s put his heart and soul into the section and been rewarded with a rapidly growing membership of very happy young golfers.

He’s won the praise of the parents for the way he encourages children of all abilities, even setting up a short course for beginners. He runs weekly competitions, holds a Ryder Cup event and put on a presentation evening which attracted 120 people.

The section has grown from just two or three juniors to over 40 members – and some parents have joined the club as well.

One of his nominators summed up: “Mark’s philosophy on golf for junior players is brilliant: let them play and have fun and they will love the game and only get better…Thanks Mark for making my boys love golf  – and I think that comes from everyone associated with this club.”

Susanne Lesley and Owen Lewis have smoothed the way for over 200 new members at Royal Ascot Golf Club.

They created and run the club’s buddy scheme, settling in new members with the support of others who know the ropes.

Susanne and Owen contact each new member personally and introduce them to the ways of the club, help them to meet other members and join in social roll-up groups. They’ll also play with new golfers and mark their cards for handicap.

The buddy scheme has its own website page, has raised the club’s profile locally and helped it recruit and retain members. It has been so successful since it started in 2015 that new members have recommended it to their friends, who have also joined the club.

Susanne and Owen also host a range of events for new members, such as rules and etiquette evenings and new golfers’ competitions.

Their nomination comments: “Susanne and Owen have committed a huge amount of their time to buddying new members and supporting them through their initial weeks of membership.”

Judith Sandford used Get into Golf to give a new lease of life to the ladies’ section at Cheadle Golf Club in Cheshire.

Back in 2012/13, when Judith was ladies’ vice-captain, she realised that membership was declining and feared that section would fizzle out in five years.

But in the last six years, she’s helped introduce 60-70 women to golf, and over half have joined the club, making the section a vigorous, growing group.

She got together with the club’s professional to launch Get into Golf beginner lessons and create a pathway into membership for the new golfers, working with a new group of beginners every six months.

Jacquie Popplewell, the 2019/20 Lady Captain was a member of Judith’s first beginner group. She said: “Without Judith’s passion to get ladies playing golf, her enthusiasm, patience, encouragement and commitment to help me play golf, I would not have had the smooth transition from total beginner to competitive golf and would certainly not be next year’s Lady Captain.”

Marcella Tuttle is described as a “tornado of a driving force” and she’s used that energy to attract 60 women to try golf at her club – and to persuade 40 members to support them as buddies.

Her three-level academy programme is her answer to dwindling women’s membership at The Links, Newmarket. And, of the 60 who attended the tasters, 50 signed up for the second stage and it’s hoped all of them will move on to stage three and membership.

Marcella’s commitment, enthusiasm and can-do attitude was summed up in her nomination: “She organised the club professionals; wrote, printed and distributed hundreds of posters and flyers; redesigned the club’s website to include a “New to Golf” drop-down page; galvanised 40 existing lady members to be mentors to welcome and befriend the new ladies; purchased 50 golf ball tubes to give to the new ladies; encouraged existing members to part with 500 golf balls to fill said tubes; and laid on glasses of bubbly and buffets after the practice sessions.”

Myerscough students warm to training

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A GROUP of higher and further education golf students travelled to Portugal for warm weather training.

They headed to the excellent facilities at the Dom Pedro Vilamoura Resort for the annual development camp which is a large part of the college’s winter provision ahead of a hectic year of competition both at home and abroad.

The travelling party comprised of 31 higher education students, 15 further education students and six members of Myerscough College and University Centre staff.

They played rounds on various Portuguese courses including Laguna, Millennium, Old Course and Pinhal, while also enjoying world class training facilities and expert technical playing advice from a quality support team.

Rick Daniels, Myerscough College and University Centre’s Golf Performance Director, said ‘’We’ve now completed more than30 development camps in 15 years, and once again our players followed an intensive programme of coaching and playing. This is a continuation of Myerscough’s plans to ensure our students are given the most advanced and thorough preparatory schedules available.

‘’The coaching focuses on all aspects of their game in conditions conducive to good golf, including warm up preparation, long and short game practice and gym sessions. Players also experience a number of rounds of golf over differing courses that the resorts have to offer, whilst staying in luxurious accommodation.’’

Myerscough College and University Centre golfers have three sides who compete in the British Universities & Colleges Sport Northern Leagues under the banner of UCLan, with teams playing in the BUCS Premier Division and Division 1A. The students also successfully play on the Collegiate & Prospects Golf Tours.

Golf is child’s play at Whalley


WHALLEY Golf Club has revitalised its junior section over the past three years thanks to the support of members and volunteers.

The nine-hole parkland venue gives over the entire course to its junior section for 26 weekly coaching sessions with PGA professional Jamie Hunt.

The result is that junior numbers top the 50 mark at the club – with a strong contingent of girls – with youngsters getting involved from the ages of five to 18.

“We had a good junior team a few years back, but then numbers fell away to as low as half a dozen before we made a concerted effort to grow the section three years ago,” explained junior organiser Carol Fletcher.

“Unlike most clubs we take juniors from as young as five as it is never too soon to start playing golf as shown by Rory McIlroy, who was hitting 40-yard drives at the age of two!”

One of the highlights of the coaching sessions is the Beat the Pond contest at the end of each week, when players take on the water at the club’s signature hole, the 9th, right in front of the clubhouse.

“The youngsters just can’t wait to take on the challenge,” said Carol.

Whalley believes that by getting the youngsters out on the course at an early age it helps them enjoy the game with friends, develop their skills and – thanks to the support of a pool of 24 volunteers who ensure every coaching group out on the course is accompanied – helps them pick up the etiquette of the game.

“The volunteers have been an integral part of the success story,” Carol added. “It is not just about the coaching we offer through Jamie, but the volunteers help the youngsters to get comfortable out on the course, to understand simple things like where to stand when someone is putting or where to leave their bag. It all helps reduce any feeling of intimidation that a youngster might have about taking up the sport.”

Whalley is a GolfMark club, with strong safeguarding policies in place and a club welfare officer – all strong signals to parents that this is a safe and welcoming place to bring their children.

Carol added: “It is great to see the junior side doing so well, but that has had a knock-on effect in attracting new adult members, whether that be parents, grandparents or even uncles.

“We hold seven competitions through the summer for the juniors, each with a presentation afterwards.  It is lovely to see the end of season presentation packed out with juniors and their families. We have quizzes, games, food and all the winners have to take the microphone and address the room, even if it is just to say a quick thank you, which adds to the confidence they are gaining out on the course.

“We have created special junior tees out on the course, while events like the Christmas Turkey Shoot or our Halloween competition offer the chance for families to play together, too.

“And we try to ensure everyone involved knows what is going on and available with regular emails throughout each week.”

Youngsters are encouraged to continue their interest in the sport by going on to become adult members of the club, with a special category of Intermediate, aimed at the 18 to 35-year-olds who can often be lost to the sport, offering a value-for-money membership fee.

A number of the youngsters are involved with Lancashire coaching paths for both boys and girls while 17 years-old Bethan Andrew, daughter of former England international and Curtis Cup player Kim, is a Lancashire county player.

Helen Searle, club support officer for the Lancashire Golf Development Group and England Golf, said: “It is great to see the hard work of a club that has taken such a proactive and positive approach to encouraging the next generation of players into the sport paying off with a thriving junior section.

“While it takes time and effort to invest in developing and maintaining a junior programme, the spin-off benefits can be new faces coming into the club and another element of a strong social side to the club.

“With the arrival of the successful national campaign – GirlsGolfRocks – to Lancashire in 2019, this is another opportunity for clubs to raise the profile of golf and attract new players.”

Wallace Belfry Hotel brand ambassador

INTERNATIONALLY renowned The Belfry Hotel & Resort has announced four-time European tour winner, Matt Wallace, as a brand ambassador.

Wallace begins the year in the top 50 Official World Golf Rankings and will be at the forefront of campaigns for the iconic resort, voted ‘World’s Best Golf Hotel’ and ‘England’s Best Golf Course’ at the World Golf Awards 2018.

Wallace, who has won a total of 10 titles in the last three years, announced his partnership with The Belfry as he prepares for a 2019 season that will see him play The Masters at Augusta for the first time.

Upon the announcement, Wallace commented: “It’s a real honour to be representing The Belfry and I’m proud to be associated with one of our country’s most iconic venues.  The Belfry has hosted the Ryder Cup on four occasions as well as numerous European Tour tournaments and one of my first sporting memories is Tiger Woods playing here and Phillip Price beating Phil Mickelson in 2002.  The courses, hotel and all the facilities are first class, so I am looking forward to our partnership and an exciting year.”

James Stewart, resort director at The Belfry,  said: “It’s fantastic to be able to name Matt Wallace as our ambassador.  Matt’s rise over the last three years has been remarkable and we’re delighted to be part of what is sure to be a bright future.  The Belfry continues to go from strength to strength and we’re thrilled to be working with Matt and wish him the very best of luck this year. “

The Belfry Hotel & Resort is also represented by the England cricketer Stuart Broad.

For further information on Matt Wallace and The Belfry Hotel & Resort, please contact Graham Chase on 07584172095.


It’s a first for County Durham Club

HLS-web.jpgON THE BALL: Mags Shaw (left) and Ann Young of Houghton-le-Spring Golf Club

A GO-AHEAD golf club in County Durham is celebrating a national ‘first’ which puts it at the forefront of safeguarding.

Houghton-le-Spring Golf Club is the first club in England to successfully renew its GolfMark Award, an official seal of approval for its work to grow the game.

With it, the club has also achieved England Golf’s new SafeGolf accreditation, showing it meets high standards to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

Houghton-le-Spring showed its commitment to young golfers earlier this year when, with the support of Wickes, the DIY and home improvement company, it ran a volunteer project to convert a pool room/general storage space into a room for juniors. They involved local community groups and young carers to make sure they got it right.

Now, with GolfMark successfully renewed for another three years, the club is looking ahead and working to encourage even more people – particularly women and girls – to take up golf and become members.

It offers an academy membership for its six-hole short course and practice facilities, which is popular with beginners. It’s staged Women on Par days with England Golf, to get new golfers out on the course and have fun with friends. It’s hoping to join the Girls Golf Rocks recruitment programme in 2019.

Ann Young and Mags Shaw, from the club’s business development team, were among those involved in renewing GolfMark.

“We’re thrilled to be the first club to renew GolfMark,” said Ann. “It’s a great asset, which puts the club in a strong position and helps us to stand out from the rest. We’d advise any club considering GolfMark to get right on with it!”

Mags added: “We take great pride in our SafeGolf accreditation which tells people that we really care about the children and young people who come here.”

Mike Greener, England Golf Club Support Officer for Durham, said: “I am delighted that Houghton-le-Spring have become the first club to achieve this milestone. They are so committed to being relevant to the community and up to date with all their policies and procedures. Now, with SafeGolf, they can confidently promote themselves as a safe venue to the wider community.

GolfMark is awarded to clubs which successfully develop the game in four ways:
• By attracting new members and encouraging existing members to play more
• Using practical business planning to develop the club
• Offering coaching and playing opportunities for all golfers
• Ensuring safeguarding policies are in place

The GolfMark award was developed by England Golf and also integrates Sport England’s ClubMark award – a national standard for quality sports clubs recognised across the country.

GolfMark brings a number of benefits to clubs including raising awareness, access to funding, business and marketing support and training opportunities for staff and volunteers. To find out more visit,


Westwood Ho!Lee picks up PGA award

GettyImages-1085285258.jpgLEE Westwood, one of Europe’s finest golfers, has become the latest recipient of the PGA Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution to golf.

The 45-year-old collected the honour from PGA captain John Heggarty at the Association’s annual fundraising lunch, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel,

Westwood is a seven-time Ryder Cup winner, having made 10 appearances in the competition. He was unbeaten in both the 2004 and 2006 matches and equalled Arnold Palmer’s record of going 12 straight matches without defeat in 2008.

One of only a handful of players to have won tournaments on five continents, former World Number One Westwood was awarded an OBE for his services to golf in 2011.

More recently, he was vice-captain as Europe claimed back the Ryder Cup in Paris in September and less than two months later, the Worksop-born player claimed his 24th European Tour title by winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

Westwood said: “It has been a great end to the season for me – winning again in South Africa was amazing and then to receive this prestigious award is the icing on the cake.

“I am really grateful to be recognised by the PGA and appreciate all their support.”

Robert Maxfield, chief executive of The PGA, said: “The PGA is delighted to present its Recognition Award to Lee, who is one of Europe’s truly great players. His Ryder Cup record proves that along with the fact that he ended Tiger Wood’s five-year reign as World Number One in 2010.

“The PGA Recognition Award is our way of acknowledging great achievements in the game and I’m delighted on behalf of the PGA’s membership to bestow this accolade on Lee – he is a deserving winner and credit to the sport.”

One of the greatest Scottish Golfers of all time, Catriona Matthew, was also presented with a PGA Recognition Award at the Association’s annual Lunch in Scotland.

Matthew is one of Europe’s greatest female golfer’s. A Solheim Cup stalwart with nine appearances in the competition, the 49-year-old is well placed to lead Europe when she captains the team at Gleneagles in 2019.

Scotland’s most successful female golfer has four LPGA Tour victories to her name, as well as six Ladies European Tour wins and five top-five finishes in major championships, including a win at the 2009 Women’s British Open.

As always, money raised from the PGA Lunches went to the PGA Benevolent Fund that helps PGA Members who have fallen on difficult times.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.