Archive for the ‘Junior Golf’ Category

Open springboard to grow the sport

 GOLF clubs across Lancashire are using this week’s Open Championship as a springboard to growing the sport.

The world’s best golfers will be heading to Royal Birkdale in Southport from July 16-23 with the dream of becoming the latest player to lift the coveted Claret Jug.

The event attracts worldwide attention, and now clubs in the region are hoping to raise awareness of local opportunities to give golf a go.

A Road to The Open campaign has been organised by England Golf, the Professional Golfers’ Association and the Golf Foundation with a range of activities to promote golf in schools, the local community and clubs.

It is being supported by the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs and the Lancashire County Ladies’ Golf Association.

Aintree Grand National Golf Club set the tone for the project with a special family community open day.

As well as the more traditional

RoadtoOpen.jpgfree golf taster sessions, putting challenges and the chance to use the driving range, supported by US Kids Golf, families could enjoy bouncy castles, craft and food stalls with local businesses as well as live music.

A further community event took place at Speke Hall in Liverpool.

Sixteen clubs around the Red Rose county are hosting special events while the Road to the Open project has connected with 10 primary schools and four secondary schools in the Southport area.

Each school now has a link to a local golf club, equipment has been provided and teachers trained alongside Young Leaders so they can deliver golf in PE classes or at schools sports events.

The Golf Foundation’s Andy Leigh (pictured above with Adam McAlister and Debbie Barber) said: “We’re already hearing great things from the teachers as they have started introducing their youngsters to golf and this should only intensify when ‘Open fever’ starts soon.

“Many of the schools in the area are arranging trips to The Open to watch the best golfers in the world. During the visit, the school groups will spend time with the Golf Foundation development team in the ‘R&A Swing Zone’ playing fun Tri-Golf and StreetGolf challenges.

“Don’t forget! It’s free admission for under 16’s at The Open, when accompanied by an adult.”

As part of the build-up to the Open, the final of the National Street Golf competition will take place at Formby Hall Golf Resort on Monday, July 17.

A special brochure has been produced highlighting the Get into golf work going on at the 16 clubs – Accrington and District, Aintree Grand National, Blackley, Burnley, Fleetwood, Formby Hall Golf Resort and Spa, Haydock Park, Lancaster, Lee Park, Longridge, Myerscough, Mytton Fold, Oldham, Rossendale, Southport Old Links, and Stand.

Statistics show that sports enjoy a two-week spike in interest following a major event and Lancashire Golf Development Group county officers Adam McAlister and Debbie Barber will be working with clubs to help capitalise on this potential surge in participation.

England Golf regional manager Jason Budd says: “The Open is a great shop window for golf and a chance for the sport to kick football off the back pages of the national newspapers.

“It is golf’s Olympic moment and we want to make sure that those people who are interested in trying golf or returning to it as a result of watching or reading about The Open can find the right opportunity to suit them at a local club.”

Road to the Open organisers have launched a new Twitter handle, #roadtotheopen2017, which they are encouraging clubs to adopt on social media.

Get into golf is a national campaign to inspire adults to take up the game and is run by the England Golf Partnership through its network of County Golf Development Groups, supported by Sport England and National Lottery funding.

Get into golf opportunities include FREE taster sessions and low-cost beginner courses with PGA professionals. They are a fun and sociable way to start golf – and a great way to make new friends.

To find your nearest centre visit getintogolf.org and look at the activity map or call 0800 118 2766

You can follow Get into golf on Twitter twitter.com/getintogolf or on Facebook at facebook.com/Getintogolf

Family Golf Month tees off

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JULY is Family Golf Month – and clubs and centres across the country are spreading the message that golf is a fun game for all.

They’re backing England Golf’s campaign to get more families playing, by highlighting golfing activities that all the generations can enjoy together.

Clubs are offering opportunities on the getintogolf.org website and family golf is being featured all month on social media activity and supported by digital advertising.

Clubs are increasingly recognising the importance of appealing to families. Abbie Lench, England Golf’s head of Club Support, commented: “Our strategy at England Golf is to put the customer at the heart of everything we do. It’s so encouraging to work with clubs who really listen to their customers and give them with what they want – which is fun for all the family.”

Glendale Golf, which operates seven golf centres in the UK including Duxbury Park in Chorley, is at the forefront of providing fun and friendly golf which attracts beginners and families with children.  That approach has meant going much further than offering beginner coaching and relaxed dress codes. Double tees, giant holes, lots of games, easy-to-use equipment and no mention of par are all part of the successful formula.

Managing director Tom Brooke explains: “Golf needs to be made far easier for children and beginners and it also needs much more of a fun element if we really are to break down the barriers to entry.”

Glendale Golf has worked with England Golf as its Tilgate Forest centre in Sussex to create a Family Fun Zone with colourful targets and a points-scoring system to create fun games. Food and drinks are served directly in the bays, which are super-sized to enable safe dining while players get on with their golf games. Balls are free and unlimited and families simply pay for the time they spend in the bay.

“The Family Fun Zone is a great example of how golf can be enjoyed by all the generations together,” said Abbie. “We’re looking forward to sharing what we learn with other clubs that want to be family friendly.”

Glendale has also renamed each of its par three courses at Tilgate Forest, Duxbury Park in Lancashire and Edwalton, Nottinghamshire, as The Fun Course. The par number have been dropped from scorecards and each hole now has two tees and two holes – an 8in cup on the green and a FootGolf hole beside the putting surface. Players, who can hire easy-to-use SNAG Golf equipment, choose their experience to suit their skill.

At Duxbury Park there’s a Golf and Games Family Park which mixes pitch and putt – to giant holes – with giant versions of games such as Snakes and Ladders and Connect 4. There’s even a huge sandpit complete with pirate ship, where the children can play while their parents enjoy a coffee.

There’s also a Family Orienteering Course at Duxbury, set safely away from the golf, to offer yet another opportunity for families to spend time together, mixing golf and other activities.

Tom Brooke added: “All our ideas came out of a series of discussions with staff at our centres and we all worked very hard to get everything in place for the summer holidays.

“We are all excited to see how the new innovations will be received by our customers. The early signs are good and we had fantastic attendance at our recent launch events. Over 300 people attended the launch of the Golf and Games Family Park at Duxbury for example, which is a source of great pride for the team there.”

The family activities are offered alongside traditional 18-hole golf for players at all seven centres. “We continue to provide the highest-quality golf experiences for the traditional golfer,” said Tom.

 

Golf’s vision of a brighter future

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Fredrik Lindgren of the European Tour adds his suggestion to the innovation comment wall. (Image copyright Leaderboard Photography)

GOLF was shown a vision of a bright future today – for those prepared to grasp change and try new ideas which put the customer first.

England Golf’s first innovation conference, #MoreThanGolf, highlighted the way for clubs and golf centres which want to grow the game.

It turned the spotlight on new formats of golf, such as GolfSixes and Speedgolf, which offer shorter, faster – and fitter – ways to experience the game.

It looked at the importance of collecting and using data effectively, to understand customers and the best ways to appeal to them. It stressed the need to connect with customers in the online world. Fact: 16-24-year-olds are online 30 hours a week; 37 per cent of their waking hours.

Clubs were urged to respond to the drive to encourage more people to become more active and to show that golf is a fun, healthy and sociable game for all. They were also challenged to grow by becoming hubs for their communities, benefiting both the club and the local area.

England Golf chief executive Nick Pink welcomed delegates from across the golf industry to Villa Park and urged them to consider and share new ways to put customers’ needs first.

Customer-focus is the most important of the priorities in England Golf’s refreshed strategy for 2017-21 and Nick commented: “If we don’t consider the needs of the customer we won’t grow the game.

“We need new ideas, creativity and innovation to drive this game on and one of the aims of this conference is to hear different ideas and approaches. Please do open your minds to some of the possibilities and ideas that we need to generate growth in golf.”

The conference struck a chord with Oldham head professional Ryan Grumbridge who is particularly interested in different formats of the game “It’s been great,” he said. “We are open to new ideas and this is all about thinking outside the box while still trying to keep traditional values. I’ve also picked up several business cards from people I need to speak to.”

Delegates also shared ideas on an innovation comment wall, with suggestions ranging from running a takeaway service to encouraging health professionals to prescribe golf.

The first focus of the conference was on new formats of the game with Fredrik Lindgren of the European Tour outlining the success of the recent GolfSixes tournament with players, fans and commercial partners.

The theme is being taken out to a young audience by the Golf Foundation, which has a proud record for innovation to encourage children and young people to get into golf. It is now running GolfSixes Academies in 32 clubs, offering team competition for boys and girls in leagues, with the all-important opportunity to track progress via mobile phones.  “We’re embracing technology and change to keep golf inspiring to young people!” said development manager Martin Crowder.

The impact of the digital world was explored by Chris Hurst of Nielsen Sports, who looked at the changing media consumption habits of the UK population and gave an overview of social networks and digital trends in sport, with a specific focus on golf.

Golf’s contribution to good health and wellbeing has been highly publicised over recent months and was discussed by Dr Steve Mann of ukactive and Jamie Blair, England Golf’s disability manager. Pam Painter of British Speedgolf also highlighted the fitness and fun benefits of the athletic format which appeals to golfers and runners.

The opportunities for golf clubs to be at the heart of their communities were considered by Svend Elkjaer  of Sports Marketing Network and Maria Nolan from Mytime Active, whose Hollingbury Park course in Sussex won England Golf’s 2017 Strongest Community Engagement Award.

Svend cited examples which promoted: “A new kind of partnership, in which both the club and the community contribute directly to the strengthening and development of each other.” He urged clubs to be open to all possibilities and to make innovation happen.

Delegates also heard case studies from Boomers and Swingers, Top Golf and Community Golf CIC.

What next? For the immediate future a #MoreThanGolf LinkedIn group has started to create a network of golf innovators and entrepreneurs.

Nelson elects first woman president

GOLF continues to break down barriers and old perceptions about the sport with one Lancashire club electing its first woman president.

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Lynn Hepworth (pictured) took over the role at Nelson following a recent annual meeting and she will lead the club through an exciting phase in its 115-year history as it looks to create a modern approach to looking after members, attracting new players and developing the 18-hole course.

She is a fantastic example of how you are never too old to take on a new challenge in life.

Lynn said: “I was a very keen tennis player until a serious back injury in my late 50s stopped me from being able to run and change direction quickly, which put a stop to me playing.
“I was presented with a set of golf clubs for my 60th birthday and told to go and learn how to play. I booked a course of lessons, fell in love with the game, and joined Nelson in 2008.

“I am a firm believer that one is never too old to take up something new. All you need is a bit of determination and a healthy acceptance of the fact that, unlike juniors who just seem to get better and better with time, some days my golf will be better than others!

“But it is a great way to keep active and have a super social life.”

Lynn, who was a teacher for 40 years, said: “We have a super Ladies section, and they have been very supportive in my early days over things like playing in competitions, rules and etiquette. I was very proud to be elected Lady Captain in 2014 and Vice President in 2015 – and am looking forward to some exciting times for the club.”
The club is an enthusiastic supporter of the National Get into golf campaign and is offering a three-month trial membership scheme for people interested in giving golf a go.

Lessons with the club’s PGA professional Sam Punchard are included – and the club even offers sets of clubs to borrow to help make it even easier to start playing.

Club mentors also help newcomers feel at home both on and off the course.

And there’s a special free taster session on June 16, from 6pm-8pm, with Punchard offering tips and advice. It is hoped to be the first in a series of monthly events across the summer.

The club has embraced a wide-ranging approach to promoting the event including using social media as well as a leaflet drop in the surrounding area at places ranging from schools, to gyms and hairdressers.

It is actively looking to build its junior section further, following the success of last year’s free summer camps, which it hopes to repeat, along with creating links with local schools and community groups. The course recently hosted the Lancashire County Boys’ Championships as part of its commitment to junior golf.

The club has also introduced a new Membership and Marketing Committee, under the chairmanship of Phil Wright, which aims to raise awareness of the club in the local community as well as improving the member experience and lines of communication within the club.

Debbie Barber, development officer for the Lancashire Golf Development Group, said: “It is great to see a club like Nelson proving that the old images of golf are changing fast. They are taking a proactive and modern approach to looking after their members in the right way and attracting new players of all ages.

Get into golf opportunities include FREE taster sessions and low-cost beginner courses with PGA professionals. They are a fun and sociable way to start golf – and a great way to make new friends.

To find your nearest centre visit getintogolf.org and look at the activity map or call 0800 118 2766

You can follow Get into golf on Twitter twitter.com/getintogolf or on Facebook at facebook.com/Getintogolf

 

 

Take four! Cheshire girl’s a real Bel-ter

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ENGLAND player Bel Wardle won the Cheshire Girls’ Championship for a record fourth year running at Sandiway. The Prestbury ace, in her final season as a junior, returned a 73, two clear of Cheshire women’s champion Lucy Jamieson.

Lancs lass Hollie back in the fray

LANCASHIRE hot-shot  Hollie Muse completed a two shot win at the U18 Fairhaven Trophies then declared: “I’m back!” The England women’s international  had given up the six months ago.

“I’d stopped playing, I was upset with my game and I wasn’t in a goHollie Muse....jpgod place,” she explained. “I didn’t win anything last year and I thought I was never coming back.”

But she came back this season with a new approach and it paid off. She tied second in the Scottish girls’ championship, then shared third place in the Scottish women’s strokeplay pior to winning at Fairhaven.

“To win this is emotional for me,” said the 17-year-old from West Lancashire.

She finished the 72-hole international event on three-under par, two ahead of Norfolk’s Amelia Williamson (Royal Cromer), who was girls’ runner-up for the second year in a row.

The boys’ title was won in runaway style by Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, two under and 10 shots clear of the runner-up, George Raitt of Leicestershire.

Full steam ahead for Golf Express!

GOLF Express is celebrating a very happy first birthday after a year highlighting that the  game fits into any lifestyle.

England Golf launched the campaign to promote shorter, quicker formats – and it has captured the mood of the moment.

Over the past 12 months, momentum has been gathering across the industry to prove that golf can be short, fun, fitted into a busy lifestyle – and show-stopping. What’s been happening?

More than 25,000 people have been encouraged by Golf Express to play 9-hole golf or other short circuits, with in excess of 200 clubs already using the website to post offers.

Two months are dedicated to promoting Golf Express and England Golf is increasing investment in its national marketing campaign to drive traffic to the website, golfexpress9.org and to create even more interest around 9-hole golf and other shorter formats.

This weekend, the European Tour will hold its inaugural GolfSixes tournament at Centurion Club in St Albans, when two-man teams from 16 countries will compete over six-hole circuits, accompanied by showbiz razzamatazz.

The R&A has introduced a 9-hole competition for amateurs across GB&I, with the final taking place on the eve of The Open.

Top golfers such as Charley Hull, Melissa Reid, Martin Kaymer and Padraig Harrington have all featured on video endorsing the pleasures of 9-hole golf. Click here to view.

England Golf ambassador Justin Rose has said he often plays 9 holes in practice and described Golf Express as: “A great way to play all the game in half the time.”

Claire Hodgson, England Golf’s Head of Participation, commented: “It’s been fantastic to see the growing interest in short format golf and to get the support of top players and celebrities.

“Golf Express has shown many golfers that they really can fit the game in alongside all their commitments – and that it’s a great way for families to relax and have fun together.”

Nine-hole golf has plenty of health and social benefits. It can be played in just two hours while the player walks two to three miles, takes more than 5,000 steps and burns in excess 450 calories.

There’s an even faster, more athletic version, promoted by British Speedgolf, which has recently partnered Golf Express. Speedgolfers jog between shots and can complete a full 18 holes in under 80 minutes, or 9 holes in under 40 minutes.

“It’s been great to reach so many people in the first year of Golf Express and now we’re looking forward to getting even more players and golf clubs involved, showing golf really is game for all,” said Hodgson.

To learn more about Golf Express and to find 9-hole or other short format offers and a directory of facilities visit http://www.golfexpress9.org