Lancashire and Warwickshire are the contenders for the title of County of the Year at the England Golf Awards 2017. The winner will be announced at the awards dinner at Lord’s Cricket Ground on 16 March and, as well as the prestige, they will receive £6000 worth of bespoke research from sponsors SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC.
Lancashire is a forward-looking county, with a development group which combines the collective strengths of the men’s union, women’s association, the PGA and the Golf Foundation to grow the game. It puts the needs of players and its 158 clubs and facilities at the heart of what it does – and has been rewarded with an impressive 4.3 per cent increase in membership.
Clubs have been inspired by county conferences and Business Growth Forums and subsequently supported to improve their business. This has included help to attract £330,000 funding for initiatives. Competition, training and coaching is offered to players at every level of the game, from beginner to the elite amateur, and successes included victory for Lancashire at the 2016 English Senior Men’s County Final.
The county is open to new ideas, hosting a range of workshops, providing £10,000 to seed fund 18 projects, and running an Innovation Awards scheme which, for example, has prompted clubs to think of new membership options to retain ageing and busy players. It also works with partners to change perceptions of the game and attract new players. This has included support for community events and media activity to promote golf.
The future is looking good for Warwickshire Golf. The partners – the men’s union, the women’s association and the county development group – are celebrating a year of exciting new activity as they work together to modernise, grow and spread the word that golf is a healthy, sociable sport for all.
Their wide-ranging achievements cover championships, junior development, communications, governance, work with England Golf and the Golf Foundation – and the introduction of the hugely successful Warwickshire Golf Awards, which replaced the traditional county dinner. Other innovations include a nine-hole evening league which promotes short format golf, as well as new competitions for men, women and seniors.
Warwickshire has been involved in England Golf’s pilot project to increase membership and participation and it has helped to create a club-centred approach which offers wide-ranging business support. It also pioneered the use of community coaches to take golf out of its traditional setting and into parks to generate wider interest in the sport. Its players were also successful with county teams playing in the national finals of the Junior Champion Club and the English Men’s County Finals, while the women’s second team won their regional league.