Archive for the ‘Amateur Golf’ Category

Crowther reflects on a season to remember

IAN Crowther has paid tribute to the quality of senior golf in Lancashire after enjoying a golden summer.

The Royal Lytham and St Annes player won two of the year’s biggest prizes and was crowned champion at the seniors’ championships in both Wales and Italy.

Crowther believes the standard of competition among the over 50 golfers in the Red Rose county is helping him keep his own game razor sharp.

“The seniors’ golf in Lancashire is played at such a fantastic level, and there is a great camaraderie among the players in the county team,” explained the 59-year-old, (pictured below right) after winning the Wales Seniors Championship (Image courtesy of Golf Union of  Wales)

.“There has been such a change in seniors’ golf over the last few seasons and the standard is so much higher. I think players are staying fitter and stronger later into life – and are working at their game and fitness levels even harder.

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“There was a time when a player’s game might start to go backwards as they got older, but I don’t think that is the case now. You only have to look at the number of guys in the gym!

“When you play for Lancashire it is not just a case of turning up and knocking the ball around. County captain Mike Gray did so much in bringing a professional approach to seniors’ golf at county level with the support of the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs and there is so much skill and quality in the team.

“Everyone supports each other so you really feel you are part of a golfing family. Everybody pushes each other along to play to the highest level we can.”

Crowther represented Lancashire as a teenager, but after returning to the sport later in life he has gone on to become a regular in the county seniors team as well as an England international. He was a member of the Lancashire team that crowned all England champions twice in 2014 and 2016 as well as playing in the successful England line-up at the Home Internationals in 2016 and 2017. He also helped England to the bronze at the European Championships in Sweden.

“I played for Lancashire at 16, but didn’t play county golf as I was building a business and raising a family,” explained the retired investment management businessman. “I got back into golf in my 30s and started to lower my handicap to the point where I was playing off plus one in my early 40s.

“As a proud Lancastrian, to now be playing for the county is marvellous but to represent your country is something very special. When you are led out behind the flag and hear the National Anthem being played you are just filled with pride to be there.”

Crowther’s spectacular success this year crowns a remarkable personal story that has seen him recover from major ankle surgery just two years ago.

The legacy of an old squash injury eventually led to him needing to have his entire right ankle rebuilt.

“In the first instance it was making sure I could walk again all right, and then starting to build up the golf slowly through chipping and putting. I think some of the members thought I was mad as they would see me working on my short game in all sorts of weathers but all the hard work the excellence of the surgeon and his team at Wrightington Hospital has paid off.

“The last couple of seasons have been incredible. It’s all a bit of a dream, to be competing at the highest level, winning titles and representing both my county and country,” added Crowther, who lives at Chadderton and is also a member of Manchester Golf Club.

“And then to enjoy what has been my best ever season is unbelievable. I think I have learnt about being in the mix at events and coming through to win this year has been fantastic.”

Crowther had threatened to make the breakthrough into the international winner’s enclosure early in the season by finishing second in the Spanish Seniors and third in the Portuguese on one of his many foreign ventures with pal Rob Fox.

However a sign of what to come was his win in the Captain’s Prize at Royal Lytham before he won the Welsh title by one shot at Maesdu Golf Club, Llandudno, in July, after claiming birdies at two of his final three holes.

He then embarked on a remarkable run which saw him win the James Braid scratch competition at Clitheroe, the Northern Counties at Seaton Carew and finally the Italian championships in Milan when he soared to the top of the leaderboard with a final round, six under 66.

“It has been a season I will never forget,” he added. “I have had great support from my wife Denise and my children Ben and Amy, while I have been travelling to events with Rob over the last couple of seasons. That has been a great way to play different courses and meet new people.

“I think what I have been through with the ankle means I have learnt not to take my golf for granted – and I want to make the very best of my playing opportunities.”

Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs secretary Phil Harvey said: “We are blessed with an outstanding squad of seniors players who are a real pleasure to work with and Ian is a very popular member of the team and a role model for elite senior golfers.”

 

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Youngsters get the Abbey habit

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A JUNIOR golf academy launched by new  head PGA professional Ben Derbyshire at Vale Royal Abbey Golf Club  in Cheshire is proving to be a big hit with local youngsters.

Derbyshire and his assistant, Brian Cassidy, arrived at the club earlier this year and launched the academy with a free open day in March – and they’re planning another in 2018.

The day was combined with a seminar for parents to learn about the academy and it was a huge success with 60 young people attending and around 50 juniors going on to take coaching classes. These were run in eight-week blocks and the final session was a competition to test the juniors’ new skills, followed by presentation of prizes and certificates.

The new juniors at Vale Royal Abbey were also able to develop their game and grow their confidence on the club’s practice area, three-hole course, junior tees on the main course and eventually the full length course.

Ben and Brian have been so pleased with the response to the academy that they are planning to repeat the programme in 2018, holding another taster day in the spring, following this with more blocks of lessons and developing an events calendar for juniors.

Ben said: “The academy has been a huge success and we have also had great support from the members here at Vale Royal Abbey who have gone out of their way to help us in numerous ways, thus showing what a friendly and enthusiastic membership we have. The academy will now take a small break over the Christmas/New Year period and we will be back again with a free open day on Sunday 4 March 2018.”

Alison Lysons, Cheshire Club support officer for England Golf, said:  “The junior academy has been a great success thanks to the hard work of Ben and Brian and the fantastic junior friendly facilities at Vale Royal Abbey. It’s exciting to see so many young people enjoying the game of golf and having a real pathway to develop their skills. I look forward to supporting Ben and Brian with developing the junior section further in 2018”.

For further information about the Junior Academy at Vale Royal Abbey Golf Club, please contact:  Ben Derbyshire, Head PGA Professional, on 01606 301291 (option 4) or email golfpro@vra.co.uk

Golf-Tech’s 3-year deal as PGA Partner

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PGA PARTNERS: From left, Hamish Ferguson, Matt Foley and Guy Moran. Photo: Courtesy Adrian Milledge 

GOLF-TECH, the manufacturer of the world’s most advanced automated teeing system, Power Tee®, has strengthened its relationship with The PGA.

The Swindon-based company has been a PGA official supplier since 2008 but has now upgraded its status to become a PGA Partner in a new three-year deal.

The company’s globally renowned product, Power Tee®, tees up six million balls a day in 17 countries and is a must-have for golf facilities, including St.Andrews, Wentworth, The Belfry and Le Golf National to name a few.

Since launching 21 years ago, it has teed up more than 40 billion golf balls – a total that would stretch round the world’s circumference 40 times. One of Power Tee’s most notable ambassadors is USA Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk.

Commenting on the partnership, Matt Foley, managing director of Golf-Tech Ltd for the UK, Europe and UAE, said: “The PGA aligns itself with many top-quality brands. They all deliver quality products and quality service and, as the market leader in our field, we are delighted to be joining them.

“We have valued our nine-year association with The PGA and are looking forward to the next three years as a PGA Partner.”

Under its new PGA Partner status, The PGA will promote the company’s products to its Members and portfolio of prestigious branded properties around the world.

Robert Maxfield, PGA chief executive, said: “We’ve enjoyed a long association with Golf-Tech and are pleased to welcome them as a PGA Partner.

“Having seen first-hand the positive effect Power Tee® has on a business, it really is an integral part of growing the game of golf. It attracts new people to the business and as the provider of the product of choice we are proud to be partners with Golf-Tech. The future of the game of golf is very important to us.”

Support for clubs to involve golf in communities

GOLF clubs across England are being offered new support to encourage more people from diverse ethnic communities to get involved in the game.

It’s the result of a two-year project in Birmingham, run by England Golf and course operator Mytime Active, to discover how to involve Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in golf.

The project successfully attracted 140 people from a range of backgrounds to take a six-week beginner course and, with the support of Sporting Equals, a toolkit has been created to help clubs engage with local communities to grow the game.

It’s part of the England Golf strategy to create a healthy future for golf by encouraging clubs to offer what their existing and potential customers want. Chief executive Nick Pink said: “Our aim is to be customer focused. We want clubs to respond to the needs of all players and encouraging minority ethnic communities is an area with huge potential for growth in the sport.”

England Golf is committed to showing that golf is a game for all, to encouraging clubs to offer inclusive programmes which appeal to their local community, and to challenge perceptions by using diverse imagery to portray golf.

The Birmingham project centred on three courses: Hilltop Golf Course, Pype Hayes Golf Course and Hatchford Brook Golf Centre. Jason Stanton, operations director of Mytime Active remarked: “More than 40 per centof Birmingham’s population is from a non-white background and Mytime Active operates seven golf courses across the city, making us ideally placed to engage with the local population.

“The three courses we chose for the project already had links with the local community and we were able to build on these to develop relationships and discover how to involve more people from BAME groups in golf.”

The project involved local community groups and leaders and looked at everything from the make-up of the communities to the image of the game and the barriers to playing.

These included the usual difficulties, such as time and money, as well as cultural restrictions. For example, a group of Bangladeshi Muslim women were keen to learn but needed a female-only session, taught by a male golf pro with a female assistant, and a relaxed dress code so that they could wear headscarves and saris.

With these barriers overcome, 15 women completed the six-week course, with 12 others attending for between three and five sessions. There are plans to include more golf opportunities in the summer programme at their community centre.

The project first offered golf at trial and taster sessions in the community before signposting the six-week beginner courses at the golf centres. Encouragingly, the average age of the 140 participants was 32, compared to the national average of 46; and 35 per cent were women, compared to the national average of 15. The largest ethnic group was from a Bangladeshi background, with 32 participants, followed by 30 with a Pakistani background.

The project was supported by Sporting Equals, which promotes greater involvement in sport and physical activity by the BAME population. The organisation provided advice and insight and eight members of the West Midlands staff went even further, by taking part in golf activities in their lunch breaks.

They also modelled for pictures to promote and market the project. Their images help to dispel stereotypes by reflecting the local community and portraying the mixed group in casual, comfortable clothing – and having fun.

They later went to play nine holes at Hatchford Brook and regional officer Dan Allen commented: “Golf was not an accessible sport in the area where I work and live. There were no role models that align themselves to the community groups I surround myself in, therefore I have struggled to play. However, the offer from Mytime Active to participate with my colleagues really appealed and gave me the pathway to get into the sport. Knowing the basics of the technique of how to hit the ball from these lessons has given me the confidence to go to a golf course and not look stupid – which was a definite barrier!”

Sporting Equals chief executive, Arun Kang, urges clubs to reach out to and welcome customers from diverse backgrounds. He said: “Golf is an inspiring sport which has produced some great champions from a range of backgrounds; however, there still remains a worrying shortage of BAME engagement.”

 

Cheshire club bids to attract more women

Vicars-Cross.gifJOIN THE CLUB: Vicars Cross members want to temp more women to take up golf

CHESTER-based Vicars Cross is joining the drive to encourage more women to take up golf by hosting a special open day with  a free taster event on November 12.

It runs from 11am to  2pm and offers anyone interested in taking up the sport the ideal opportunity to learn about what is involved.

The club’s PGA professional Martin O’Connor will provide free tuition and there’s an opportunity to visit the clubhouse for a drink and to chat to women members to discover what the sport and the club has to offer.

Follow-up coaching will also be available to newcomers who are interested in developing their skills with a four-week block of lessons for beginners before Christmas.

Then they will be able to progress into a six-week block of lessons for improvers in the New Year with various options then being available to continue practicing and playing at the club which will be explained on the day.

Club member Wendy Anscombe, who has led the project, said: “Golf is a great way to meet people, enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise.”

The initiative supports England Golf’s aim to get more women and girls playing golf and joining clubs. Only 15 per cent of club members are women and one per cent girls.

Alison Lysons, England Golf’s club support officer in the West of Cheshire, said: “It’s been great working with Wendy to develop this opportunity for women who would like to try the game.”

For further information about the initiative at Vicars Cross Golf Club, contact Wendy Anscombe on 01244 225174 ext.1 or email wendy.anscombe@vicarscrossgolf.co.uk

England Golf launch disability Championship

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ENGLAND Golf will launch a disability championship for the first time in 2019 as part of its calendar of events.

Over the past two years, they have worked with the charity BALASA Golf to shape a national championship and it has been confirmed that they will take sole responsibility for this event from 2019.

This will be the first time that the England Golf championship programme has included a disability event and it underlines the organisation’s commitment to being customer focussed.

The championship will offer a competitive opportunity to golfers who are an important part of the game – and their views are being sought to shape the event.

Disabled golfers, both club members and non-members, are invited to complete a short survey about the type of event they would like. Email clubsupport@englandgolf.org to receive the survey in an alternative format. The survey will run until January 15.

Jamie Blair, disability manager for England Golf, commented: “This a fantastic step forward and shows our commitment to providing for disabled people at all levels within our game.

“Offering an event that will be shaped by disabled golfers will allow us to ensure we provide a great experience and will cement this event within our championship programme.”

If you are a disabled person who would like to get into golf you can find out more  at http://www.englandgolf.org/disability or visit http://www.getintogolf.org/inclusive to find your local club or driving range which offers inclusive activity for disabled people

To find out more about existing disability golf events that you can get involved in visit http://www.englandgolf.org/disabilitygolf

 

More women urged to get into golf

A SCHEME to encourage new women golfers to play more often and have fun on the course has been such a success that it is set to grow.

The Academy Away Days ran in three counties this season and attracted over 300 players, bringing them together for on-course outings to grow their confidence and to make new friends. Next year the scheme will run again in Hertfordshire,

Academy-Away-Days (1).jpgDurham and Cheshire and will also be extended to five new counties: Northumberland, Worcestershire, Suffolk, Devon and Hampshire.“It’s a great opportunity to learn to play with others who are at the same level,” said one of the players. “I was a little nervous about the overall day but the experience was good,” added another. “It’s given me the confidence to play on the course and improve,” said a third.

The Academy Away Days have been developed by England Golf as part of its commitment to growing the women and girls’ game. Only  15 per cent of club members are women and just one per cent are girls, but research shows there’s a huge appetite for playing the sport.

The scheme was pioneered in Hertfordshire where clubs realised they needed to support and retain women who had taken Get into golf beginner courses.

Outings are organised on par three and short courses and the players use a novel scoring system which focusses on rules and etiquette rather than the number of strokes taken.

So, over nine holes, the women complete a series of challenges such as successfully hitting the green in one shot, raking the bunker correctly and shaking hands on the final green when they had completed their game. Everyone tees off at the same time so there’s lots of opportunity to socialise afterwards and enjoy a glass of fizz.

The success of the scheme is highlighted by the results of a survey of women who took part this summer, which indicated that almost 60% have taken out some form of membership.

Lauren Spray, England Golf’s Women and Girls’ participation manager, commented: “The Academy Away Days have proved a great way for women to make friends, to build their confidence and to have fun while they improve their skills and keep playing golf.

“The feedback from the players has been so positive and I’m looking forward to seeing even greater success as it grows into the new counties.”

England Golf has also piloted the Sunday Slam this year for women aged 18-35 and the concept will be further tested next season.

 

The Sunday Slam offered a series of monthly stablefords to women who may only be able to play at the weekend and want to get together with other women of a similar age for competitive yet social golf.

Events were held at Breadsall Priory in Derbyshire, Belton Park in Lincolnshire, Radcliffe on Trent in Nottinghamshire and The Leicestershire .