THE drive to encourage more people into golf in Cheshire has received a double boost.
England Golf – the game’s national governing body – has appointed two new development officers to support the work of clubs and driving ranges across the county.
Alison Lysons will team up with Sean Hammill with a brief to attract more players, increase membership and develop stronger clubs across the region.
The county’s golf facilities are already backing a national campaign launched by England Golf, which has put in place a wide-ranging strategic plan which runs until 2017.
‘Raising our Game’ includes supporting clubs as they seek to introduce newcomers to the sport through coaching for beginners and providing a positive pathway into club membership.
The work going on in Cheshire sees the Cheshire Union of Golf Clubs and the Cheshire County Ladies Golf Association working closely with the area’s PGA professionals while England Golf is now providing additional resource with the introduction of two county development officers.
The formation of the new Cheshire Golf Development Group will focus attention on attracting people to the sport and providing the right support for clubs as it looks to build on the work of the previous County Golf Partnership.
Alison and Sean will work alongside England Golf regional manager, Iain Lancaster, to develop and deliver national initiatives and programmes to make golf more accessible to people of all ages and abilities. This includes supporting clubs with two initiatives – the Get into Golf campaign and the achievement of the GolfMark standard. Both promote a more inclusive and friendly approach towards newcomers, ensuring they can play golf regularly.
The two CDOs will also support clubs in areas like the retention of existing members.
Alison, originally from Widnes and who now lives in Warrington with partner Patrick, has previously worked as a development officer for Women’s Running Network, England Athletics and Badminton England.
She played golf at Widnes Golf Club as a junior and her dad Keith, now aged 82, is still a playing member at Widnes. As soon as she was offered her new role with England Golf her dad whisked her off to a local driving range to brush up on her skills!
Alison said: “Golf is great because it can be played by all age groups and abilities and offers great health benefits, allowing participants to improve their fitness in a fun and sociable way. I’m looking forward to getting to know and work with all the golf clubs and ranges in the county.”
Sean, who lives in Macclesfield, previously spent three years as development officer in Staffordshire and a regional officer for England Golf. He comes from a golfing family and was a previous member at Bramhall, but now plays at Prestbury, where he is a former junior organiser. Sean is also a member of Alnmouth in his native Northumberland.
He said: “Golf is great because it is the only sport that can be truly described as a lifetime activity allowing people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to participate together. I am looking forward to working with clubs and golf facilities across the county.”
Alison and Sean have divided the county – one of the largest in the country with more than 100 golf clubs and facilities – between them. Alison will support clubs in Cheshire West & Chester, Warrington and Wirral. Sean will support clubs in Cheshire East and Stockport.
Both are keen to engage with clubs and facilities across Cheshire and ask clubs to contact them to arrange meetings. Clubs will benefit from the additional support on offer as they seek to retain and recruit new members and increase regular participation.
Lancaster added: “The additional capacity shows the commitment of England Golf to ensure a healthy future for the sport and will enable us to support more clubs across Cheshire, driving the More Players, More Members and Stronger Club elements of the Strategic Plan.
“The Golf Development Group will also begin to create a County Plan for Golf, which will serve to benefit the sport across the area.
“This is an exciting development and will see the new group build on the foundations laid down by the County Golf Partnership to make it even easier for people to give golf a go in Cheshire and to enjoy the many health and social benefits the sport can bring, particularly as a member of a club.”
David Durling, chairman of the Cheshire Golf Development Group, said: “The Development Group is delighted to have Alison and Sean on board. They bring with them skills and experience that will be a great assistance to all of our clubs in Cheshire.”
Pictured are the new county development officers Sean Hammill and Alison Lysons with David Durling, centre, chairman of the Cheshire Golf Development Group.