£190K of funding for Scottish clubs

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams April 19, 2013 10:11

£190K of funding for Scottish clubs

AskernishGCThree remote golf clubs in the Western Isles of Scotland have received government and National Lottery funding to make their venues more attractive to women and children.

Stornoway, Benbecula and Askernish golf clubs are using a collective total of at least £190,000 of funding, which also comes from other local sources and the clubs themselves, to build new facilities constructed specifically with the needs of women and children in mind.

Benbecula Golf Club is building a new £100,000 clubhouse that will include ladies’ changing facilities for the first time, and will provide indoor space for the delivery of junior coaching.

Stornoway Golf Club will open a three-hole practice facility for juniors, which will lie within its main 18-hole golf course, this summer, thanks to a grant of £50,000.

Askernish Golf Club is also establishing an indoor space for children to be taught how to play the game, via Scotland’s national junior programme, ClubGolf. It received £40,000 of sportscotland funding for this, late last year.

All three projects involve some degree of funding from sportscotland, Scotland’s agency for sport, which invests Scottish government and National Lottery resources.

Benbecula’s new clubhouse will replace the rudimentary brick structure that’s currently being used by the club’s members. A total of £99,000 has been contributed by the club, sportscotland and the Western Isles Council.

“It’s not going to be a big building,” said club captain Niall McPherson. “But it is a building that we can use as part of the coaching that’ll be more comfortable and where we can take the kids to do some indoor tuition, and just for basic shelter.

“All the members will benefit. There is more of a chance they will bring along their kids and it will help us connect better with local schools with the Active Schools programme.”

Stornoway Golf Club has acknowledged that playing and competing over a more appropriate length of course will better allow young people to flourish by breaking ground on a tailor-made layout of its own.

Here, they will hone their skills through the ClubGolf programme without interfering with play among the adult members, who are known to take to the course in force throughout the year.

“The current ClubGolf coaching set-up is extremely difficult,” said Stornoway member and Level 2 coach Ken Galloway.

“We coach up to 50 juniors every Monday from April to the end of August and, given that some of the kids are very junior, they have to be split into groups of no bigger than six.

“It becomes difficult in splitting them out as we don’t have a dedicated practice area, aside from a small putting green and bunker. So, you have to go to areas on the course where there are no golfers. If the weather is good, that can be quite difficult to achieve.

“The provision of the three-hole practice facility will solve our problem.”

The £50,000, grant-aided by sportscotland, the Parks and Open Spaces Capital Grant Scheme and the Scottish Golf Union North District Reserve Fund has been spent in developing the course, which will include three par three holes of varying lengths and difficulty, and six tees.

And, according to Galloway, the work that has been done will be of most benefit to children still in the early stages of ClubGolf, as they prepare to make the crucial transition onto the main 18-hole layout.

“It will give those who are moving up to Stage 2 in the coaching a better opportunity to have a stepping stone before going into the wild and wonderful 18 holes. That’s quite a threshold to cross for a youngster,” he added.

And Askernish Golf Club is establishing an indoor space for ClubGolfers to enjoy.

On advice from ClubGolf regional manager for the Highlands & Islands, Willie MacKay, the club has combined plans for the construction of machinery shed with an indoor facility that will be equipped with all features required for ClubGolf coaching.

The original plan, which has also been funded by sportscotland, the Western Isles Council, and the LEADER Innes Gall rural development fund, includes a large space for tuition and should be able to house around a dozen young people at a time.

Club chairman Ralph Thompson said: “The problem we have here is that, because of the weather, we get the kids, the ladies and the gents’ section engaged during the summer but, by October when the weather gets bad, it all dies a death until the next spring.

“All we wanted to do is have some continuity and carry that right through the winter and with this facility we will be able to do that.”

MacKay, whose job it is to liaise with clubs in his designated area in order to promote the uptake of the ClubGolf programme, has been encouraged by the progress being made in Scotland’s Western Isles.

He said: “Golf development in the Western Isles over the last five years has been amazing since the Western Isles Council signed up to the ClubGolf programme and their Active Schools Team rolled out their plan. Isle of Harris Golf Club set the ball rolling and then Back Driving Range probably showed the other clubs what can be done.

“The man hours that committees and members give to provide new facilities are exceptional. It never ceases to amaze me how problems become challenges and more people pull together to achieve their target.

“These three projects under way at present will provide a smooth pathway for juniors at Stornoway, give Benbecula a clubhouse that will see them develop a community golf club, and Askernish look forward to having a facility where indoor shelter will provide both a centre where all year round golfers can practice, as well as be used as a coach education centre for visiting PGA professionals and tutors.

“This would not be possible without the vision of the members and committee, but vital to getting the projects started are the financial support and advice from Western Isles Council, sportscotland, and LEADER Innes Gall. ClubGolf and Scottish Golf also play their part, so it really is a team effort.”

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, said: “With the help of the ClubGolf programme, golf on the Western Isles is flourishing and sportscotland is delighted to have provided funding for these three clubs to further improve the facilities available.

“The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles is now very much on the horizon, which gives us a unique opportunity to capitalise on the excitement which will undoubtedly be generated in the coming year.

“sportscotland is committed to supporting the implementation of the ClubGolf programme, part of Scotland’s commitment to the game which formed part of the successful bid to host the 2014 Ryder Cup, which has already introduced over 180,000 children to the sport.”


Emma Williams
By Emma Williams April 19, 2013 10:11
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1 Comment

  1. Brian Inglis April 19, 10:52

    Great news and good luck to all involved. If Stornoway can produce a player as good as Kenny Galloway himself they will be doing well!

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