Hundreds of people hit a ball for the first time last month as Glendale Golf’s second Festival of Golf enjoyed a triumphant return, once again smashing targets UK-wide. Six centres managed by Glendale Golf each attracted an average of over 125 brand-new golfers during the month-long Festival.
In total, over 750 absolute beginners hit balls at the six venues, which stretch from London to Lancashire, plus Hampshire, West Sussex, Essex, and Nottinghamshire.
But golf wasn’t the only thing on offer. An array of other attractions such as live music and craft fairs all contributed to creating a lively, accessible and family-friendly atmosphere at the six golf centres during the Festival.
“We set out to beat last year’s total, and we sailed past it” said Tom Brooke, Managing Director at Glendale Golf. “If you include families who played FootGolf for the very first time, we had well over 900 actual first-time participants in just four weeks – which is a stunning result given the general feeling that golf is struggling to attract newcomers these days.”
And Glendale Golf will not stop there. “With two successful festivals behind us, we are now looking at having this sort of activity on our calendar more regularly” said Brooke. “Putting our golf centres at the heart of the community – even if you simply want somewhere to have a great cup of coffee and a chat with friends – is absolutely central to what we are aiming for.
“As regards golf participation, we can do this, as an industry” he said. “If we can persuade almost 1,000 complete newcomers to actually participate, in just one month, at just six golf clubs, imagine what would happen if a thousand golf clubs made the same sort of effort. My advice to other clubs is to be more open-minded, motivate your staff to have the right attitude, put in the hours, and get your message out to the local community. It works!”
Examples of success from this summer are numerous throughout the Glendale Golf group. At Castle Point Golf Centre, on Canvey Island in Essex, 41 junior golfers had their first-ever golf lesson in August, and almost 100 people tried FootGolf for the first time. “The Festival was fantastic from a junior perspective” said Centre Manager, Mike Worley. “What we did with junior golf lessons here at Castle Point had a big effect on visitor numbers in August, and it has certainly given us food for thought moving forwards.
“And although we’ve had FootGolf here since summer 2015, we offered some family packages during the Festival which really gave local people something to look forward to in August, after we went out into schools and the local community to talk about what was coming up.”
At the group’s Portsmouth Golf Course, over 110 people walked through the doors for the first time during a Fun Day in August which offered a children’s putting contest, free junior and beginner lessons, arts and crafts stalls and live music.
Chorley’s Duxbury Park Golf Course, Crawley’s Tilgate Forest Golf Centre, Nottingham’s Edwalton Golf Centre – which recently celebrated a nine-year extension of the Glendale Golf management contract – and London’s Richmond Park Golf Centre all enjoyed a successful month, with over 250 people attending the latter’s Family Fun Day where a weekend’s hire of a sporty Jaguar car was on offer.
Abbie Lench, Head of Club Support at England Golf, said: “As part of England Golf’s strategy, ‘Raising Our Game’, we not only want to encourage people to give golf a go for the first time, but we want to encourage them to participate on a regular basis. Glendale Golf’s second Festival of Golf demonstrates that the first part is achievable if you have a team of people focused and passionate about that goal, and we congratulate them on their success.
“In terms of getting newcomers to come back, it clearly requires ongoing commitment and focus. We are delighted to support initiatives such as these as they strive to achieve our mutual goals of growing the game, and a reversal of the recent decline in membership.”
“The evidence is clear – with the right direction, and the right level of activity, people will give golf a try for the first time” said Tom Brooke.
“In the UK of course, the weather can scupper your plans at any time of year, so we feel that it is important to always be working on this, rather than on simply putting the odd date in the calendar. We miss out on a lot of potential growth, as an industry, owing to badly-planned ‘grow the game’ events, and I think this proves that a more long-term approach is needed.
“Our staff were once again magnificent, and we are also hoping to work ever-closer with England Golf to ensure that our experiences and initiatives can be shared with more golf clubs.”
Glendale Golf www.glendalegolf.co.uk