When it came to achieving SafeGolf status, Preston Golf Club was well aware of the social and welfare benefits that accreditation would bring.
With the help and advice of England Golf’s Club Support Officer, Adam McAlister, creating a secure environment for young people and vulnerable groups to enjoy their golf was uppermost in the Lancashire club’s thinking.
However, the club has been thrilled at the other advantages that have followed as a consequence of being a SafeGolf club.
Chris Preston led the drive towards SafeGolf accreditation ably assisted by two colleagues at his club – junior organiser Charlie Webb and Penny Beckett, the child welfare officer and club president.
Chris is proud that Preston Golf Club has become a leading light in Lancashire for SafeGolf which will become a mandatory part of England Golf affiliation for all clubs from January 2021.
Chris explained: “The safeguarding and social benefits of SafeGolf are obvious.
“We want to make sure everyone- young and old – can enjoy golf in a safe and fun environment at Preston Golf Club.
“But on top of making sure we look after the welfare of our golfers, there are other benefits which our club is now enjoying.
“Because we are a SafeGolf club we have just received notification that we are to become an HSBC Golf Roots Centre in 2020.
“Aside from creating a culture of care at the club, the SafeGolf status is opening other avenues for the club to explore.
“We are in discussions with Jamie Blair (England Golf’s Inclusion and Wellbeing manager) about a blind golf programme and are working with a local group called Galloway’s Society for the Blind.
“We are encouraging golfers with disabilities too and are also in the process of putting together a separate package for local schools.
“Without SafeGolf accreditation we wouldn’t be able to approach local schools with our ideas.”
Chris is encouraging all clubs to focus their mind on the SafeGolf process in 2020 and to interact with their CSOs in the delivery of the accreditation.
“We found our CSO Adam’s input invaluable in terms of getting SafeGolf over the line,” he added.
“I would advise clubs to try and work on it over the winter months as when the playing season starts in the spring the pressures of that can take over.
“The templates on the England Golf website were extremely useful and together with Adam’s insight helped us achieve our accreditation.
“We followed structured steps and broke it down to pro staff and junior volunteers and made sure all relevant people had the necessary checks.
“SafeGolf can be primarily for young people and vulnerable groups but we are also looking at our seniors and making sure we look after their interests.
“That might just be when they are out on the course themselves or in a broader sense with initiatives around dementia.
“One of our members, Steve Elliot, has been diagnosed with dementia and together with his wife Mags we are driving forward with an initiative designed to help Steve and others remain engaged with golf.”