LANCASHIRE clubs are hoping their support for the drive to get more people playing golf will help land a prestigious national award.
The Red Rose county has been nominated in the 2019 England Golf awards, sponsored by adidasGolf.
The Lancashire team are bidding to secure a double success, having been crowned County of the Year at the 2017 awards. This time round they will face competition from Wiltshire when the winners are revealed at a gala dinner in London in March.
County golf officials have been delighted by the support shown by the region’s 157 golf-related facilities, which has seen a wide range of projects to grow the game across Lancashire.
As a result, the county is bucking the national trend with a total membership increase in 2017 of just over 1% against a nationwide decline of 2%. This is on the back of a 4% increase in 2016.
And county organisers have praised clubs for being prepared to embrace a new approach to wooing the next generation of golfers.
Projects included a ground-breaking conference looking at increasing the number of girls and women playing golf, which saw industry experts offer advice across a range of subjects including marketing, customer experience, social media and what young women are looking for from golf.
Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs secretary Phil Harvey said: “Lancashire is a county which understands the complex barriers to participating in golf. Combining the strength, skills and experience of its partners it has capitalised on the ‘County of the Year Award’ 2017 to reinforce its position as leader in the quest to tackle those barriers.
“Our successful county conference and follow up initiatives – hailed as the ‘flagship’ for driving participation of women and girls – provided education, motivation and support.”
The award nomination brings together the work of a number of partners, including the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs, the Lancashire Ladies County Golf Association, the Lancashire Golf Development Group, the Golf Foundation and the Professional Golfers Association.
They have set out a vision for the county which pledges “for the golf bodies in Lancashire to strengthen their relationship and play a key role in getting more people playing the game and developing talented individuals.
“The course for action provides a focus for the passion, determination and enthusiasm of the thousands of our paid and unpaid ‘guardians’ of golf to deliver.”
The figures make impressive reading as Lancashire has promoted golf on national TV and radio, as well as at community events, meaning 111 people with disabilities have been helped into golf programmes, while more than 1,200 children have been offered a way into the sport.
New initiatives generated an estimated £190,000 in new business between April and September last year, while clubs have been supported to call on more than £616,000 in investment to secure their long-term futures.
Lancashire has recently appointed a new director of coaching to overhaul its entire coaching programme while strengthening its admin team over the past few years, adding experience in key areas such as marketing, finance, business development and club management to the committee structure.
More than 200 boys and 96 girls are on junior talent development programmes.
Other developments included new software to help counties collect fees and membership details, which is now used by 30 of the 34 counties in England, while 5,700 players subscribe to the free Lancashire County Card scheme.
CAPTION: Spot the star …. former Lancashire county player Tommy Fleetwood – now number 14 in the world – with members of the Lancashire boys’ training squads when the Ryder Cup star shared some of his lessons from his formative years as a golfer.