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Small club making a big impression in Northumberland
May 17, 2011

One of the smallest clubs in the country - based in Northumberland - is making its mark on the golfing world.

Allendale Golf Club, near Hexham, is one of the region's most remote clubs and has just 100 members.

But as a testimony to its forward thinking, 20 of them are juniors, and the club - first established in 1906 - has just been recognised for its child-friendly approach by receiving the GolfMark award.

Members celebrated the award by opening their new practice nets - just another example of their vision to create the right atmosphere and facilities to encourage people of all ages to take up golf.

Led by Junior Organiser Valeria Dunn, Allendale have worked tirelessly to gain their GolfMark accreditation.

Valeria was born and raised in Allendale before moving away to work as a sports teacher. She returned four years ago when she retired and has been working to forge links between Allendale and the local community so that more people can enjoy the facilities.

Valeria strongly believes that juniors are the foundation to the future success of the club. She is passionate about sport and the positive impact it can have on youngsters.

"Sport is fantastic as it gives children something to work towards," she says. "Golf is great as it teaches etiquette and manners and develops children in a nurturing atmosphere."

Martin Forster, the PGA Pro who leads the weekly coaching at Allendale, explained how the club has always looked at ways to encourage beginners and juniors.

Martin's father was a member of the original Allendale course and he has childhood memories of playing with his dad and brother, while his own son James could soon follow in his footsteps.

Martin added: "Valeria is the driving force, and everything is carried out in a professional manner. Juniors get picked up and dropped off if needed and receive certificates and snacks after sessions."

Lisa Ferrie, county development officer for the Northumberland Golf Partnership, has high praise for the club's efforts.

"Valeria and her team have worked very hard," she says. "I would encourage anyone to go along to Allendale for a game, the views are fantastic and as the course is so under used, even on a Saturday, it is ideal for beginners who often feel rushed.

"It was great to see the club's juniors and representatives from all sections at the presentation - showing just how the club works together - including Ladies Captain Fran Philipson, Welfare Officer Alwyn Woodcock, Head Greenkeeper Michael Keen, Junior Captain Jack Milburn, Club Chairman Ian Dunn, along with other members."

One of the juniors present was Haydn Rutherford, the son of 11-time club champion and course record holder Richie Rutherford.

Alwyn Woodcock, club Welfare Officer, added: "The club is proud and pleased to have achieved GolfMark. It is nice to have everyone's efforts recognised while making sure there is quality assurance for our programmes."

As a result of their junior programme, the club has also picked up a number of new members from among the parents.

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, all of which are extremely important to parents and children alike.

GolfMark is an initiative jointly provided by the EGU and EWGA via the England Golf Partnership's 'Whole Sport Plan' for golf and is an integral part of the England Golf Partnership's vision to 'Grow the Game'.

The Northumberland County Golf Partnership is a collaboration of a number of stakeholders in the sport including the English Golf Union, The English Women's Golf Association, the PGA, the Golf Foundation and Sport England.

In Northumberland the partnership is supported by the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs, the Northumberland Ladies County Golf Association, the Northumberland Junior Golfing Association and the Professional Golfers' Association.

For more details of the activities in Northumberland visit

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