Welwyn Garden City Golf Club, managed by GCMA member David Spring, is among 148 local sports projects to secure a share of £9 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund.
Since 2011, Inspired Facilities has been helping breathe new life into tired community sports facilities and converting existing buildings into venues suitable for grassroots sport.
The grant will benefit the club’s current members but also help it to attract new members and to provide state-of-the-art facilities for a wide cross-section of local people who want to give the game a go.
The project will see the installation of three new astroturf greens on the club’s existing practice ground and also a cover over the existing practice tee. The former will provide useful targets for members using the facility in its current format but will also be utilised as a short par-3 course on the occasions when club professional, Stuart Mason, and his team are giving group lessons to beginners and juniors.
Funds have also been allocated to improve access to the area.
Work on the project will start shortly after the club’s Finals Day in September and should take just over a week to complete.
Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “The Inspired Facilities Fund has had a huge impact on grassroots sport across the country. Since 2011, we’ve invested £102 million into more than 1,920 projects to improve and refurbish sports clubs and transform non-sporting venues into vibrant community sports clubs.
“It’s great to see Welwyn Garden City Golf Club join the long list of successful clubs to benefit from this fund.”
“We would like to thank Sport England for awarding us this £70,000 grant,” said Welwyn Garden City Captain, Tony Smith. “It’s fantastic news for the club and the wider community as a whole.
“Over the last few years, Welwyn Garden City Golf Club has spent a good deal of time and effort endeavouring to attract new members and we see the development of our practice ground as the latest step in this process.
However, it’s also important on another level because it will also enable the Club and our head professional, Stuart Mason, to reach out into the local community and that is something we’re all very keen to do.
It’s a win-win situation, really.”
Welwyn Garden City’s current Lady Captain, Carol Pomroy, has been one of the main driving forces behind the project and she agrees the Sport England grant will help the club attract newcomers into the game at a time when participation levels have been under threat across the country.
“Stuart already teaches a large number of beginners but he will be able to do a lot more thanks to the grant from Sport England,” she said.
“I know he wants to attract men, women, juniors, the disabled, school groups and other groups who want to try the game but are not confident enough to play on a full size course and our new facility will help him to do that.”
Many more communities are set to benefit from the hugely popular fund with the latest round of the Inspired Facilities now open. Community and voluntary organisations, councils and schools can bid for a share of £5 million to help upgrade facilities that can be unattractive, expensive to run and difficult to maintain, and to convert existing non-sporting buildings into venues that are suitable for grassroots sport.
The Inspired Facilities Fund is currently paused, whilst Sport England review their funding structures for 2016-2021, but to find out more visit www.sportengland.org/inspiredfacilities.
By Mike Hyde