Royal Birkdale Golf Club is the first of England’s Open Championship venues to receive the GolfMark award from the English Golf Union (EGU) and English Women’s Golf Association (EWGA).
GolfMark, which incorporates Sport England’s ClubMark accreditation, is the national scheme which identifies and recognises junior and beginner-friendly golf facilities.
Royal Birkdale is now able to increase its coaching provision for beginners through GolfMark grant funding. Good practice at the club led by PGA Professional Brian Hodgkinson has also involved structured coaching for girls from local schools and the holding of seniors versus juniors matches (including eight-year-olds playing 80-year-olds).
Junior Organiser and Past-President of the club, Norman Jones, said: “Once you invest the time, attaining GolfMark is a straightforward process to go through, especially if you’re already doing good things for beginners. GolfMark opened doors for funding so that our professional staff could offer more coaching, building on the club’s renowned good work with juniors. Our young players have been improving and we have developed some really talented golfers.”
Norman added: “EGU/EWGA regional development officer Melanie Flude helped us every step of the way through the process. She gave us fantastic support. I think GolfMark was an important step to take to show Royal Birkdale’s commitment to growing the game. We may be fortunate to have a special club here but we never forget that we are a golf club working hard for our members and that includes the members of the future.”
GolfMark is open to any affiliated golf club and facilities involved in the scheme have access to a number of rewards and recognitions as detailed on the GolfMark website, www.golfmark.org, which include funding for coaching and free places on workshops.
Richard Flint, Golf Development Manager for the EGU/EWGA, said: “Royal Birkdale is the first Open Championship venue to realise the benefits that this award brings. I am sure this will be an inspiration to many of the other large and established golf clubs that are thinking about GolfMark. More than 330 golf clubs have now been awarded GolfMark in England and a further 600 clubs are working towards the accreditation, almost half the clubs in the country, which shows a commitment to encouraging new golfers which all the members of the English Golf Partnership are delighted to see.”
GolfMark is an initiative jointly provided by the EGU and EWGA via the England Golf Partnership’s ‘Whole Sport Plan’ for golf and is an integral part of the England Golf Partnership’s vision to ‘Grow the Game’.
Royal Birkdale Golf Club www.royalbirkdale.com