Cheshire and Middlesex are going head to head in a bid to win England Golf’s County of Year Award, sponsored by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.
The counties are the two finalists for the prestigious prize which will be presented at the England Golf Awards 2018 at the Royal Lancaster London on Thursday 22 February.
“This is a fascinating contest,” said England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink. “It pits North against South and little against large – with Cheshire representing 99 clubs and Middlesex numbering just 34.
“What both counties have in common is their class and the quality of their support for their clubs and members. The judges will have a tough task to separate them and we look forward to applauding a worthy winner.”
Join us at the Awards dinner to celebrate these and the finalists for eight more categories, by clicking here to book tickets. Tickets are just £85 each and include drinks on arrival and a three-course dinner with half a bottle of wine per person.
Cheshire is celebrating a year of all-round achievement: getting more people playing golf; great support for clubs; and the smooth running of the county organisations.
The county had notable success in attracting more people into golf. Its Driving Junior Golf initiative involved 10 clubs which ran free tasters for almost 200 youngsters; 130 continued into coaching and over 100 have become club or academy members.
Girls Golf Rocks ran for the second year, at eight clubs, and some of the original beginners are now involved in county coaching. Cheshire is now one of England Golf’s priority junior counties, working in partnership to encourage more young players.
Meanwhile, over 400 women were introduced to golf and 120 took up club or academy memberships. Almost 50 clubs promoted Get into Golf opportunities, leading to 300 new memberships, while disability programmes were run with the Stoke Association and Macmillan.
Clubs are receiving comprehensive support to strengthen their business and meet their customers’ needs. The men’s Union and women’s Association worked with England Golf to develop a county action plan and both organisations also work in partnership with the PGA in the County Development Group.
On the playing front, a Cheshire U16 boys’ team was started to increase opportunities, more girls’ coaching was arranged following the success of Girls Golf Rocks, and top players figured in England squads.
Middlesex took a modernising stride forward in 2017 when the members of its men’s and women’s county organisations voted unanimously to merge.
The foundations of the successful vote were laid in preliminary meetings when the benefits of merger were explained to members and any issues resolved.
Now Middlesex has a board of 10 elected members – with at least 30% representation of each gender – a three-year business plan and a busy programme. This includes improving communications with members, setting up a database of club contacts, upgrading their website content and launching their first Awards dinner to recognise achievement by volunteers, clubs and stewards.
Education for clubs is a priority with a range of courses arranged for 2018, including safeguarding. Relationships are being developed with golf ranges, whose customers will often progress into club membership, and this could lead to discounts for county card holders.
On the playing front, the merged organisation is very obvious. Men and women work together to run all the county competitions, referees of both genders officiate, and young golfers are offered mixed academy and intermediate coaching and playing opportunities. There’s orders of merits for men, women and juniors and lots of encouragement for club golfers to enter non-elite events.
The county is working to increase the number of junior golfers and to get more players in county competitions. It also provides financial support clubs running open events, providing they have evidence of good safeguarding.