Boost for golf in Suffolk

SUFFOLK is set to follow other English counties by setting set up a county golf partnership.The partnerships aim to bring together the three main golfing organisations, the EGU, ELGA (now EWGA) and the PGA, with support from the Golf Foundation and Sport England.

SUFFOLK is set to follow other English counties by setting set up a county golf partnership.

The partnerships aim to bring together the three main golfing organisations, the EGU, ELGA (now EWGA) and the PGA, with support from the Golf Foundation and Sport England.

The idea is to utilise their combined knowledge, experience and resources to support golf within the county. This is an integral part of England Golf's vision to “Grow the game.”

There will be considerable benefit to the game by getting all the organisations together to work as a team. The English Golf Union has a vision of making the country the leading golf nation by 2020.

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The PGA already has the backing for the project nationally, the ladies in Suffolk have indicated their support and now it is down to the Suffolk Golf Union to get their member clubs on board.

Meetings have been arranged this month for clubs to send up to three representatives (ideally including their captains, professionals and junior organisers) to hear the proposals in more detail to get a better understanding of future plans.

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David Houston, a former SGU president, will chair the three meetings at which Sport Suffolk and the English Golf Union will send representatives ready to answer questions.

Richard Flint, a senior official at the EGU, will address the first meeting at Bury St Edmunds tomorrow (6pm refreshments for 6.30 meeting). This will be followed by similar meetings at Fynn Valley on January 16 and Halesworth on January 17.

Those attending will be split into groups to discuss various topics the result of which should pinpoint the main concerns within the county so that they can be included in the development plan that must be drawn up.

Golf needs to take steps to check the gradual national decline in club membership by attracting more people into the game. A handful of clubs may feel that they have no problem over membership and can see a comfortable future. They are in the minority.

Golf Partnerships will be a driving force for the good of the game. Apart from that they will have the know-how so far as securing available funding and grants for coaching and recruitment in the future.

Suffolk will be funded to set up a Partnership and can expect grants of up to £30,000 in the first four years.

Each club will need to appoint a member of their committee to act as delegate to the Partnership when it is formed. The Partnership should appear on the agenda of all club meetings to pass on information.

Steven Peet, employed by the English Golf Union, will work in the East with responsibility for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex Norfolk and Suffolk. He has an honours degree in leisure management and golf studies from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University.

Peet said: “The main idea is to get feedback from clubs. Unless you know the main concerns you cannot write a meaningful development plan.”

Twenty-six counties are in the process of setting up Partnerships for which they receive funding. For instance Worcestershire & Herefordshire County Golf Partnership will receive £22,000 over the next three years for the development of golf. Their partnership was set up in December 2006 so they are a year in advance of Suffolk. The funding is determined by the number of affiliated clubs.

Richard Flint said: “Worcestershire & Herefordshire have been extremely proactive and now has a strong foundation from which to really push forward. We have no doubt that many other counties will look at putting a similar structure in place.”

Among the initiatives Worcestershire are trying to encourage clubs to look at flexible membership packages which target 19 to 30 year olds.

In Dorset they will also receive £22,000 and one of their aims is to assist 30% of clubs to become accredited to Golfmark by the end of 2009. Fynn Valley is a Golfmark club in Suffolk, one of only 54 in the country. A further 343 are working towards it so they become recognised as being junior and beginner friendly.

Appointment of development officers is usually a first step. Northamptonshire's is part-time. BB&O, with many more clubs, have a full-time official while Norfolk's development officer has a similar responsibility for hockey and works closely with Active Norfolk.

David Houston said that he does not envisage Suffolk's membership of the golf partnership leading to any increased levy from clubs to the Suffolk Golf Union.

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