Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club, County Durham’s only 36-hole golf resort, has launched a major drive to encourage more people to take up the sport.
According to England Golf, the national governing body, golf participation is declining in the UK with fewer people up the game because it is seen as too expensive and time consuming.
Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club, which opened England’s newest golf course last September, hopes to reverse this trend by making it cheaper for people to join its club and then pay for only as much golf as they want to play.
The club has launched Flexi-Golf, a new flexible membership scheme that allows golfers to join the club for just £195 and buy bundles of points to exchange for rounds of golf at the resort’s two courses.
Helen Roseberry, director of golf at Ramside Hall Hotel and Golf Club, said: “It’s important to recognise that golf has changed. The days of waiting lists at local golf clubs are gone and it is so easy to find discounted golf on the internet.
People are busier than ever before. As a North East golf club we need to make it easier for local people to access the sport and our golfing community, without them put off by the idea of paying for a fixed term annual membership that they might not use as much as they would like.”
According to England Golf, membership of golf clubs in the UK dropped by 20 per cent between 2004 and 2013 and last year Sport England withdrew almost £500,000 of funding for the development of grass roots golf.
Ramside Golf Club is dedicated to helping new starters take up the sport and in 2013 was named best Adult Starter Centre in County Durham by the national Get into Golf Initiative.
The new Flexi-Golf membership guarantees all of the benefits that full members enjoy without the larger financial commitment.
Members can hold an official handicap and play in club competitions, but the pricing structure is more flexible and cost-effective.
“The serious golfers will always turn out, week in and week out, and for anyone playing lots of golf then a full annual membership is still the best investment, but for new starters, infrequent players or golfers coming back to the sport after a break; Flexi-Golf membership is an ideal solution,” added Roseberry.
The Flexi-Golf points system takes into account overall demand for tee-times at the club and prices golf credits at higher rates during peak times, such as the Summer months and at weekends, whereas tee-times are cheaper off-peak during winter and at twilight times (after 3pm).
John Adamson, director of parent company Ramside Estates Ltd, said: “Opening a new golf course at Ramside is a bold move when the sport has endured a tough time.
Several golf clubs have shut down across the UK over the past 18 months and golfers are more discerning than ever when it comes to price but we are confident that the sport has lasting appeal as a leisure pastime.”
Ramside Golf Club’s new 18-hole championship Cathedral course opened in September 2014 and is laid out on rolling farmland and through a picturesque wooded valley between Belmont and Pittington on the outskirts of Durham City.
It is part of a £15m development that will see a brand new health club, spa, swimming pool, gymnasium, 47 additional bedrooms and 34 executive residential homes built on the Ramside Estate, with the leisure facilities expected to open in Spring/Summer 2015.
Flexi-Golf@Ramside membership starts from £195 per annum
Ramside Golf Club www.ramsidehallhotel.co.uk/golf