John Letters Golf Academy Walsall receives RangeMark
A Staffordshire golf centre is hoping to use a national award as a springboard to more success.
The John Letters Golf Academy Walsall, based at Calderfields Golf and Country Club, has received RangeMark - a national award for driving ranges at the forefront of developing the game which recognises junior and beginner-friendly facilities.
But staff at the range have no intention of resting on their laurels and have launched an ambitious scheme to forge closer links with up to 25 schools in the area.
They are already three quarters of the way to achieving their target as part of a wide range of initiatives aimed at increasing the number of people taking part in golf.
As well as working in schools, the team is building opportunities for students at colleges and universities such as Wolverhampton University and Walsall College to get involved in golf as well as delivering coaching sessions to special needs schools such as Westminster School.
Students are being offered six group coaching sessions for as little as £10, individual coaching from just £9.99 and two for one green fees at Calderfields GCC in April, May and June.
Local businesses are also being offered the chance to get groups of their staff involved in tailor-made coaching sessions.
Says Academy Director Paul Hebdon, a PGA professional: "Golf is being well received in the schools. They see it as a positive for the pupils in terms of social life, behaviour, discipline and health.
"We aim to link the eight-week programmes into the driving range while the golf club is also offering a half price membership fee for juniors of just £65.
"As a range we offer drop-in sessions for any juniors interested in taking up the sport and more intensive coaching for those better players who want to improve further.
"The RangeMark award means everyone will know that we are a good facility with all the right duty of care policies in place so that the children who come to use are in a safe environment to enjoy their golf."
It is intended to include a Tri-Golf day as part of the Calderfields Open event, which will take place during Midlands Golf Week in April.
Says Sean Hammill, county development officer for the Staffordshire County Golf Partnership: "Driving ranges play an important role in encouraging people into the sport. Often it is the place where people swing a golf club for the first time.
"The John Letters Academy has put in a tremendous amount of hard work to meet the stringent requirements of this award and has a lot to offer for anyone looking to get started in the sport. With their plans for the future, they will remain at the leading edge of golf development in the area."
The John Letters centres across the country are involved in a number of other golf projects including Golf Factor's search for hidden talent, the Future Stars programme to help young children into the sport, and supporting the work of the Chris Gill Foundation.
The John Letters Golf Academy Walsall has a 28 bay floodlit driving range and putting green while work is starting on a new short game area.
Further details available from www.johnletters.com/golf_academy/walsall/
RangeMark is an initiative jointly provided by the English Golf Union (EGU) and English Women's Golf Association (EWGA) via England Golf's 'Whole Sport Plan' for golf and is an integral part of England Golf's vision to 'Grow the game'.
The John Letters Academy is the third such facility in Staffordshire to be awarded RangeMark. The others are The Range and The Three Hammers Golf Complex, which are both in the Wolverhampton area.
The England Golf Partnership is a collaboration of a number of stakeholders in the sport including England Golf - the organisation formed by the merger of the English Golf Union and The English Women's Golf Association - the PGA, the Golf Foundation and Sport England.
In Staffordshire the partnership is supported by the Staffordshire Ladies County Golf Association, the Staffordshire Union of Golf Clubs and the Staffordshire PGA.