North Wales GC named golf club of the year

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 3, 2019 06:02

North Wales Golf Club has been named Wales Golf Club of the Year in a ceremony at 2010 Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor.

The club, which increased membership by 237 over the last two years, with the average age of playing members dropping from 62 to 47 years-old, also recently became a Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots Centre.

 

The club’s coaching team provides either free or low-cost lessons to approximately 250 children a week, including those with disabilities, with almost half being girls. It is also a Wales Golf Girls Hub club.

North Wales general manager Phil Beard said: “I think it is just fantastic recognition for North Wales golf across the board. Most of the clubs in North Wales have seen that we have been developing as a club over the last three years.

Phil Beard. Wales Golf Awards 2019. ©Steve Pope Sportingwales

“A lot of our members will be shocked because a lot of the good work goes on behind the scenes. It is a tremendous opportunity for the club to actually shout about something and get the members behind what we are doing.

“We have had a tremendous growth over a short period but the challenge now is to continue that growth and to raise the profile, not just for our club but for North Wales golf as a whole.

“We are already working with two or three other clubs to try and help develop them, assistant pro Robin Hughes has been putting coaching programmes into other clubs trying to bring the kids along.

Phil Beard with Golf Foundation’s Brendon Pyle

“We do not just see North Wales Golf Club as just our club, it is about developing the game of golf across the North Wales region.

“The focus for us has been developing as a community club which is open to anyone. The key to me is making sure we are accessible to anyone who wants to participate in the game of golf.

“Our schools programme is out there, including young people with disabilities, we know a lot will never join but the experience of playing this game is something we should be offering to everyone.

“Our big drive for women’s golf this year will be focused on the social opportunities, rather than playing. We are targeting getting 150 women socially active at the club and from there we will get a few who move into our New2Golf programmes.”

 

In a nice double for the region, Ruthin and Pwllglas’ chairman David Oswyn Roberts was named Volunteer of the Year.

Roberts has been involved at the club for more than 50 years. “It is nice to get recognition,” he admitted.

“It is nice of Wales Golf to acknowledge all the volunteers at every single club.

“My favourite part has been working with other enthusiastic people. I have played a role, especially over the last 10 years, but having a good team around me is the thing.

“When you get good people around you it is quite an easy job. Younger people will come through and take over from me as they get more time.”

Cardigan Golf Club was named Junior Club of the Year.

It is the reward for five years of hard work which has seen the club build junior membership up to 50, two thirds of whom are in weekly coaching and 14 of whom are girls – making them one of the largest junior girls section in Wales.

Cardigan’s Jullia Den Hartog, a former winner of the Wales Golf Volunteer of the Year award, said, “To be honest we were really shocked.

“When you see a lot of these clubs, they have big driving ranges and all this technical gear, all singing all dancing and lots of pros. We are one pro with a lot of volunteers and a lot of enthusiasm.

“It is a real warm, welcoming club with a lot of kids who turn up, not necessarily to win. Winning is great but it’s a club atmosphere and they’re really enjoying it, part of getting healthy, getting active and getting out there and playing.

“Not everybody is going to get on the tour, playing professionally, we just want them to be out there enjoying it like we do.
“We have got a grant we have been awarded to build a driving range, but it will take a while to get that done.

“Because our course is open all year, we don’t stop over the winter, the kids still come along and if it’s raining, we just go upstairs, move the tables and chairs, put different objects down and they have to try and hit them which focuses their putting.”

And Llantrisant and Pontyclun’s John McDonald has won the Wales Golf PGA Professional of the Year award.

The former Wales Golf regional academy coach delivers golf to 18 primary and secondary schools in Rhondda Cynon Taff. He has also helped Llantrisant and Pontyclun become a Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots centre and is one of the supporting PGA professionals of the initial Golf Foundation Golf Sixes Pilot in Wales.

The number of active junior members has increased year on year since he took over, almost tripling in his first year, with a significant number of girls taking up the game.

“I wouldn’t change anything about what we do,” he said, after receiving the trophy. “I really enjoy the development side of coaching, with good assistant pros who enable us to do what we do.
“We are also lucky in having a number of primary schools and secondary schools, some disability coaching as well. We get a real kick out of it.

“We are lucky we have a golf club whose support really helps as well. We try to cover every area of development. Rather than any negativity about golf clubs struggling, we should all be working together to encourage more participation, more retention in every golf club.

“If we all work together it is amazing what we can achieve for golf. It is a lot more accessible than it has ever been, so hopefully the future is pretty good for Welsh golf and junior golf in particular.”

McDonald has been able to make his mark at Llantrisant and Pontyclun after learning his trade at Celtic Manor, the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup.

John McDonald

“I was fortunate. I started at Celtic Manor in 2010 which was a great time to start,” he said. “It is quite an inspirational place with all the facilities, it gave me the opportunity to develop my craft.

“It is such a big corporate machine the opportunities to grow and develop the game are few and far between.

“The opportunity to move back home came up. We grew the junior section in the first year from 23 to 68 so that was a really good sign.

“The club struggle financially at times, but they are welcoming of initiatives and are open to my ideas of how to drive the club forward. So we have new growth, new ladies schemes, new girls, new juniors, new categories of members.

“When I started there were four members between the ages of 17 to 30, now it is up to about 65, we are trying to target that younger element which should be easy if we can get a strategy in place and do it well.”

The awards come just days after similar recognition for golf clubs in England which have achieved best practice in the past year.

3 Hammers owner Ian Bonser wins lifetime service award

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 3, 2019 06:02
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1 Comment

  1. Tom April 2, 14:24

    This is fantastic. Encouraging Juniors has got to be a Clubs Priority. They are the future and the survival of this wonderful sport. Congratulations to Cardigan Golf Club for embracing and building the Junior Membership, the future or your club is very healthy and secure because or your foresight and commitment. Highly commendable and admirable. Beautiful photo. Take care and continued success.

    Congratulations John. Great achievement and hopefully many more to follow.

    Well done Becky. Perseverance pays off. So happy for you.

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