Go-ahead golf club scores national first

A go-ahead golf club in County Durham is celebrating a national ‘first’ which puts it at the forefront of safeguarding.

Houghton-le-Spring Golf Club is the first club in England to successfully renew its GolfMark Award, an official seal of approval for its work to grow the game.

With it, the club has also achieved England Golf’s new SafeGolf accreditation, showing it meets high standards to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

Houghton-le-Spring showed its commitment to young golfers earlier this year when, with the support of Wickes, the DIY and home improvement company, it ran a volunteer project to convert a pool room/general storage space into a room for juniors. They involved local community groups and young carers to make sure they got it right.

Now, with GolfMark successfully renewed for another three years, the club is looking ahead and working to encourage even more people – particularly women and girls – to take up golf and become members.

It offers an academy membership for its six-hole short course and practice facilities, which is popular with beginners. It’s staged Women on Par days with England Golf, to get new golfers out on the course and have fun with friends. It’s hoping to join the Girls Golf Rocks recruitment programme in 2019.

Ann Young and Mags Shaw, from the club’s business development team, were among those involved in renewing GolfMark.

“We’re thrilled to be the first club to renew GolfMark,” said Ann. “It’s a great asset, which puts the club in a strong position and helps us to stand out from the rest. We’d advise any club considering GolfMark to get right on with it!”

Mags added: “We take great pride in our SafeGolf accreditation which tells people that we really care about the children and young people who come here.”

Mike Greener, England Golf Club Support Officer for Durham, said: “I am delighted that Houghton-le-Spring have become the first club to achieve this milestone. They are so committed to being relevant to the community and up to date with all their policies and procedures. Now, with SafeGolf, they can confidently promote themselves as a safe venue to the wider community.

GolfMark is awarded to clubs which successfully develop the game in four ways:
• By attracting new members and encouraging existing members to play more
• Using practical business planning to develop the club
• Offering coaching and playing opportunities for all golfers
• Ensuring safeguarding policies are in place

The GolfMark award was developed by England Golf and also integrates Sport England’s ClubMark award – a national standard for quality sports clubs recognised across the country.

GolfMark brings a number of benefits to clubs including raising awareness, access to funding, business and marketing support and training opportunities for staff and volunteers. To find out more visit www.golfmark.org

Caption: Mags Shaw (left) and Ann Young of Houghton-le-Spring Golf club.