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Pype Hayes Golf Club gets GolfMark approval
December 8, 2011

A Birmingham golf club that has literally risen from the ashes has received national recognition for its efforts to encourage more people to take up the sport.

Pype Hayes Golf Club has been awarded GolfMark, an official seal of approval for junior and beginner friendly facilities which play a major role in the development of golf.

The award is a crucial part of the Sutton Coldfield club's recovery from an arson attack two years ago that destroyed the clubhouse.

Members have been operating out of three Portakbins at the course, which opened in 1933 and is owned by Birmingham City Council, while plans for a replacement building are finalised.

Rather than let the fire prove a devastating setback for the club, members have instead taken the opportunity to overhaul how the club is run and put in place positive plans for the future.

Explains PGA professional Joe Kelly, who is employed by the city council to oversee the site on Eachelhurst Road in Walmley and help advise the club: "Previously it was a male only club but we have re-written the constitution to allow ladies to join, play in competitions and play a role in the club. It was a move that was backed by the members."

The first shoots of recovery have seen more than a dozen ladies sign up while the 300 strong club now has 15 juniors.

And they have taken an innovative approach to attracting newcomers to the sport.

Explains Joe Kelly: "As well as the normal kind of work in local schools, we also approached Kingshurst Sports Club, which runs football teams from the ages of seven upwards as well as ladies and disability teams. They are sports minded people and golf gives them the chance to play sport in another arena. Rather than competition to their teams, they see us as complementing what they have to offer.

"Turning up at a golf course on your own to learn how to play golf can be intimidating, but they have been coming as a group of people who already know each other. Also, football gets harder to play after the age of 30 with injuries and fitness, but golf is a sport that can be played throughout your life.

"We have found this to be a good way of actually getting people to the golf course and it is the kind of link to the local community that we want to build on."

The club is run entirely by volunteers and Joe Kelly praised their positive response to the fire and the hard work that has gone into achieving GolfMark and bringing the club into the 21 st century. Now he says the club is well placed to offer a strong structure to anyone looking to take up the sport.

Joe Kelly says: "GolfMark has given us a platform, but the next 12 months are important as we must not waste the start we have made.

"Golf is a perfect sport for older people as it helps give them exercise, but we also have to think about where tomorrow's golfers are coming from. We want to get the X-Box generation out on the course."

Julia Burton, county development officer for the Warwickshire County Golf Partnership, says: "The fire at Pype Hayes could have dealt the club a blow that set them back years. Instead the members and Joe have rallied round to take positive action that has allowed the club to move forward with optimism.

"Everyone involved in achieving GolfMark should be congratulated on their efforts, not just in the changes they have made to the internal workings of the club but their proactive approach in going out and engaging with the local community."

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'.

A number of projects aimed at increasing participation in golf are run under the umbrella of the Warwickshire Golf Partnership. This 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 Warwickshire the partnership is supported by the Warwickshire Union of Golf Clubs (WUGC), the Warwickshire Ladies' County Golf Association (WLCGA) and the Warwickshire PGA.

For more details of the activities in Warwickshire visit

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