Archive for the ‘County 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.

Ian Crowther .jpg

“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.”



Bolton golfer named Lancs president elect

Mike Lay LUGC President 2018.jpgTHE Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs has named Michael Lay as president-elect for 2018-19 and will take up the role in March.

Lay, 58, has been a member of Bolton Golf Club for 15 years and is a category one golfer and a three-time winner of the Bury Golf Championship.

He has served on the handicap and greens committees at Bolton and was greens chairman when the club hosted the Lancashire County Championship in 2015.

He has been married to Karen, also a Bolton golfer, for 24 years.  They have a son, James, who has recently graduated from Nottingham University.

Lay joined the Lancashire board in 2012, has served on the junior committee and is chairman of the SSS and affiliation committee.

He attended school in Bolton and subsequently joined Greater Manchester Police where he served until retiring after 30 years, reaching the rank of detective superintendent.  He won the English Police Golf Championship and was selected to represent the British Police golf team.

As a boy he was passionately interested in all sports and became a county standard footballer before leaving school and he still retains an interest in many other sports. Lay is also the assistant secretary of Bolton Golf Association.

He said: “I am obviously delighted to be nominated as County President and as a proud Lancastrian look forward to representing the county and its members in 2018.”


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

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 .

Clubs cash in on England Golf deal


SHAKE ON IT: Iain Lancaster (centre) with GMG directors David Valentine (left) and Scott Partington

ENGLAND Golf has partnered with the Golf Management Group (GMG) to help golf clubs cut costs without compromising on quality.

Clubs affiliated to England Golf will receive free GMG membership for a year – usually £149 – which could help them make savings of more than £10,000.

GMG is the second organisation to join England Golf’s new Preferred Partners and Supplier network. This is designed to give clubs access to a range of high quality products and services and, as it develops, will offer increasing value to England Golf’s club support package.

Iain Lancaster, England Golf Club engagement manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome GMG to our developing network and to increase the support we are able to offer clubs to help them grow.

“I am looking forward to announcing more partnerships over the coming months to further demonstrate our commitment in this area.”

GMG is a purchasing alliance, created in 2010 by experienced golf club operators, which sets out to increase profitability for independent clubs across the UK. It uses its collective purchasing power to get significant discounts without compromising on quality or service.

Memberships gives access to teams of experts who look at a club’s expenditure and report back on potential savings in key areas such as energy, insurance and food and beverage.

To complement the procurement benefits GMG members also have access to Contracts-Manager,  an online tool designed to manage all service and utilities contracts. The system will prompt clubs at critical dates when they might wish to look for more competitive arrangements.

Savings will vary depending on the areas each club chooses to review. But GMG would expect that clubs which engage with its top six performing categories would cut costs by over £10,000.

Scott Partington, from GMG. said: “”We are very excited about the partnership with England Golf, it endorses everything we have been doing over the last seven years and will provide significant leverage when negotiating with our supply chain, which should see golf clubs making even greater savings.

“The complimentary membership for affiliated clubs removes any barriers to try our service and we look forward to adding to our current membership of over 550 clubs.”

GMG have joined the XACT group in the Preferred Partners network. XACT provide golf clubs with health and safety and human resources support.


New Lancs NW Junior Open goes with a swing


WINNING SMILES: From left, Dr Steven Reid (LUGC president) Sam Thornton (Lancaster, Best Gross), Jim Furlong ( Knott End captain), Harrison Thomas-Cooper (St Annes Old Links, Best Nett)

LANCASHIRE newest open golf competition proved a big hit with the youngsters. The first North West Junior Open  at Knott End Golf Club was supported by the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs.

A total of 57 boys and girls took part with ages ranging from nine to 17.  First winner was Sam Thornton, from Lancaster GC, who took the gross prize with a score of 67 over the testing and picturesque course close to the Wyre estuary.

Lancashire Under-16 champion, Grady Rogerson (Royal Lytham & St Annes), was runner-up, two shots adrift.

Nett prize went to Harrison Thomas-Cooper, of St Annes Old Links, with a score of 64. And the best nett girls’ prize went to Hillside’s Chloe Murray.

Lancashire Union secretary Phil Harvey welcomed the addition of the event to the county calendar.

“We are delighted that this new event was so well received by players from all over the North West,” he said. “It was made extra special by the support of sponsors Nu-Form Fire Ltd, who provided everything to make the event a great experience for players and sponsors.

“We have already agreed with the club to help run the event on the same weekend in 2018 and we hope to get even more of our future starts involved.”

Knott End PGA professional Paul Walker said the club was already looking forward to next year’s event. “I am sure it will go from strength to strength. We are grateful for the support from Eddie Carswell and his company Nu-Form Fire Ltd as sponsors and to the Lancashire Union for making sure everything ran smoothly.

“It was great to see so many youngsters enjoying the experience and the feedback we got from players and their parents/guardians was fantastic.”



Pleasington ladies sweep the board

PLEASINGTON have pulled off an astonishing treble in the Lancashire County Ladies Golf Association matchplay trophies this month.

It was an unprecedented achievement because the Bronze Trophy was only introduced in 2009.

A fewer number of clubs enter the Scratch Shield run by a straight county draw where all the league clubs play each other home and away with the winners progressing to the final day.

The Handicap and Bronze teams start of in their LLCGA divisions, again playing the same way as the scratch matches, and eventually reaching the finals.

The handicap finals at Fairhaven rounded off the run of success.