The article in this weeks Journal read ……A NORTHUMBERLAND golf club has hit the right mark in its drive to encourage more people into the sport.Parklands Golf Club – which is based in High Gosforth Park opposite Newcastle Racecourse – has been awarded GolfMark, a national seal of approval for junior and beginner-friendly facilities. The club has adopted a ‘mentor’ approach to new recruits to its ladies section by teaming up an existing player with a newcomer. The scheme has been so successful, it is now being rolled out across the whole club to help new members settle in and feel at home. The club is determined to put the fun into golf, catering for people of all ages and abilities with American-style crazy golf, covered driving range and 18-hole course.
Parklands also runs a very successful junior academy programme, backed up by a route into future club membership. Junior organiser Brian King said: “It is hoped that the transition from the successful golf academy to the golf club will now be seamless, as we have the right systems in place.” Club secretary Geoff Brown said: “The GolfMark procedure has made us look at how we operate with juniors and we realised that at club level we were not as good as we thought we were. “Now we have the right steps and support in place through our development plan to accommodate and help juniors progress.”
Lisa Ferrie, county development officer for the Northumberland County Golf Partnership, has special reason to applaud its success. She said: “Parklands is where I began to play golf as a junior by going to Saturday group lessons for £3. “I then progressed to becoming a member and thoroughly enjoyed my time developing my game at Parklands. “I have no doubt that without Parklands and the support of the members and professionals when I was growing up I would not have progressed as far in golf.” Lisa also praised the club’s family-friendly approach, adding: “The clubhouse is open to everyone and, like my mam did, you find many mums having a cup of coffee while juniors are having their lessons.”
General manager Joe Fleetwood added: “I am very pleased that we have passed GolfMark. It has been the culmination of several years’ hard work, carried out mainly by Brian King and head professional Mark Watkins. It is a great achievement for the golf club.” Head professional Mark said: “I am pleased the club is being recognised for the hard work that it does for beginner golf. “We take people from grassroots all the way through. Our junior academy has been very successful. Juniors can come along to sessions and pay £4 a lesson and can then progress to an eight-week academy membership with a full programme of activities and on-course mentoring. “We have a range of coaching to suit all ages and abilities. We are particularly excited about this year’s ladies taster programmes that will allow people to loan clubs on a monthly basis so that they can practise away from lessons.”
Parklands has six golf professionals available to deliver coaching, including female coach Nikki Hunter. Parklands will be one of the clubs hosting Northumberland County Golf Partnership Get into Golf sessions – priced at £10 for six one-hour group sessions for people aged 16 or over, who are not already a member of a golf club. For more information on these sessions and other coaching or membership options at Parklands, contact Mark Watkins 0191 236 4480. GolfMark is a national scheme that incorporates ClubMark and recognises junior and beginner-friendly golf facilities that focus on coaching and playing, club environment and child protection, and duty of care.