Four finalists are targeting the title of England Golf’s Most Welcoming Club, sponsored by American Golf.
They are: Burghill Valley Golf Club, Herefordshire; Garforth Golf Club, Yorkshire; Golf at Goodwood, Sussex; and Norwood Park Golf Centre, Nottinghamshire.
They’re all top notch at reaching and enthusing new volunteers, players and members. They persuade women, youngsters and people from ethnic minorities to give golf a go. They offer a really warm welcome and they’re part of their local community.
But there can be only one winner – and the successful club will be announced at the sell-out England Golf Awards 2018 at the Royal Lancaster London on 22 February.
England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink commented: “These four clubs are absolute experts at putting their customers at the heart of everything they do. By understanding what people want from their golfing experience they are able to welcome new players to the game and to keep their members contented and involved. All four finalists deserve recognition and we will have a very worthy winner.”
Burghill Valley Golf Club, Herefordshire
Burghill Valley has the simple aim of making all their visitors feel welcome and have fun – and it works.
Societies return year after year to enjoy the course and clubhouse experience and community groups hold their meetings and functions there. There’s a relaxed dress code and the use of mobile phones is standard practice, within reason. Technological changes are embraced, but introduced at the members’ pace.
The club believes its approach helps to change the perception of golf and move it away from a stuffy, elitist image. It’s rewarded with a membership which is always ready to volunteer and help the club thrive.
It also has a big welcome for new golfers with schemes including free junior coaching, business women’s networking course which now has a waiting list; and by offering coaching and work experience to visually impaired students.
Garforth Golf Club, Leeds, Yorkshire
Garforth prides itself as a community-based golf club, with a welcome for all. It’s constantly developing strategies to reach out in its neighbourhood and it makes sure there’s a great first impression for visitors with a warm meet-and-greet from staff.
That attitude has helped them to attract members and to forge links with local schools, associations and clubs, welcoming a large number of players aged under 16 – and their parents. But, the club is not satisfied, it wants to reach more groups within its ethnically diverse community and to connect with disability organisations.
The club has tested itself with a ‘mystery shopper’ review and received great feedback which reinforced its approach. It has also been rewarded by positive social media chatter about its food and beverage operation and its staff.
Golf at Goodwood, Sussex
An open door policy has paid huge dividends at Golf at Goodwood, introducing hundreds of new golfers and members.
The club is heavily involved in community activities in West Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, creating interest in the game with visits to over 50 schools, local fairs and sports events.
Back at the club there’s a wide range of coaching opportunities and a discounted Get into Golf membership, which encourages new golfers with lessons, restricted course time and practice facility use.
The views of exisiting members are listened to, thanks to a group of representatives from various sections of the club who provide feedback and ideas.
The result last year was that the club retained 92% of its membership and took in 299 new members. There is a junior membership of over 100 and a women’s membership of 316.
Norwood Park Golf Centre, Nottinghamshire
The welcome at Norwood Park and the way customers are looked after has given the club its highest-ever membership.
Over the last six years this has grown by about 200, with many new and lapsed golfers attracted by opportunities such as the EZ Golf course for beginners with 50-yard holes and 15in cups. Women and girls can get started with the Girls Golf Rocks and Pink Ladies schemes and there’s coaching for players of all abilities.
The club listens to its members through an annual survey and reaches out to the community with its annual family open day, when hundreds of people attend to enjoy the activities.
The club also has partnerships with a charity which supports people with learning difficulties and with a local care home. It also encourages players from disability groups and schools for children with special needs.