A Lancashire golf club is marking its 125th anniversary with a special drive to encourage more ladies to take up the sport.
Grange Park, St Helens launched the 125 Club to help newcomers to the sport make the most of its health and social benefits.
The club has been running ladies taster sessions since 2015 but found that while many of those taking part were interested in taking their golf further, the demands of family and work life were an obstacle.
Explains Anne Morris – one of the 125 Club organisers alongside Jean Quigley: “The ladies who attended the Tasters typically had no previous knowledge of golf, or family/close friends who were golfers.
“The majority of them worked full time. From our discussions we knew that they felt that they did not have the time available, or the competence, to justify joining a golf club.
“So the seed for a ‘125th Anniversary Membership’ was sown. This new category of membership provides the means for beginner ladies to join Grange Park and receive organised support to develop their game. The subscription rate reflects the limited amount of golf that beginner ladies will play.”
To mark the anniversary, the membership fee was pitched at just £1.25 per day and included five free group coaching sessions with PGA professional Paul Roberts.
One of those who took advantage of the 125 Club is Helen Conway. With a full-time job as a senior family lawyer in Liverpool, the 46 year-old from St Helens had often considered taking up golf but was looking for an option that suited her busy lifestyle.
She explains: “The beauty of the scheme has been the level of support given to us as we start a lifetime of trying to master this game! We very much appreciated the raft of experienced members who have given up their time to come out with us and show us how it is done.
“Paul has made sure in group coaching sessions or private lessons that we get a good grounding in the basics.
“We are also heartened by the many club members who have taken time to chat in the bar or on the practice ground to make us feel welcomed and to encourage us to persevere and to just enjoy the game.
“From our viewpoint, the 125 Club has been a resounding success and has broken down many of the barriers that hinder people taking up golf.”
Adam McAlister, county officer for the Lancashire Golf Development Group, says: “This is a great example of a club thinking differently about how to attract new players to the sport – and creating a pathway on into club membership.
“Everyone has to start somewhere – and the 125 Club offered a cost-effective way to learn the basic skills of the sport in a fun and friendly atmosphere with people who are in the same position.
“Once people are given the chance to try golf, they find the health benefits and social side to the sport are things that they enjoy – and want to do so on a regular basis. Ideas like the 125 Club are a great way to encourage them into the sport and on into club membership.”
getintogolf.org 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.
England Golf www.englandgolf.org