Thursday, 29th September, 2016

£100k of public funding for County Durham club

Story published at 12:30, Thursday, February 11th, 2016


South Moor youngsters Dan Welsh and Abbi Wheatley splash out of the practice bunker on the biggest Astroturf golf practice area in Europe (photo Ian Horrocks)

South Moor youngsters Dan Welsh and Abbi Wheatley splash out of the practice bunker on the biggest Astroturf golf practice area in Europe (photo Ian Horrocks)

County Durham golf club South Moor have taken their total of grant aid past the £100,000 mark in five years following an award of £4,926 of National Lottery money from Sport England’s Flood Relief Fund.

Just over half the total assistance has been funded by Sport England with the remainder provided by Stanley Area Action Partnership and Stanley Town Council.

A vast overhaul of the 93-year-old former “miners only” Coal Board club, where the course was designed by the man who created Augusta National, Dr Alister MacKenzie, began in 2011.

South Moor staged the McGregor Trophy, the England Boys Under-16 Open won by City of Newcastle player Jack Hermeston.

Stanley Area Action Partnership awarded the golf club a £23,000 grant to stage the event and £2,000 for car park improvements.

Hosting an international tournament previously won by golfers such as Justin Rose, Edoardo Molinari and Graeme Storm drastically raised the profile of the club.

So much so, South Moor attracted 80 new members and in 2012 committee man and former captain Guy Carr won England Golf’s Club Development Award.

Carr, also a PGA Level One golf coach, is the major driving force behind the club’s fund raising.

“Our facilities have improved beyond all recognition over the last five years”, said Carr, a 51-year-old IT consultant who lives in Chester-le-Street. “These are fantastic times in terms of our rapid development and they are the reward for vast amounts of hard work by many people at the club and at the public bodies who have funded us.

“We are getting near to completing a par three course and there is an Astroturf short game practice area covering 1,668 square metres which is the biggest of its kind in Europe and includes a practice bunker.

“We have totally refurbished top class changing rooms, showers and lockers and an extra putting green – part of the Astroturf area – and a new practice driving area.”

Funding also allowed South Moor to be chosen to host the inaugural North of England Under-14 Open in 2014.

Carr added: “We put it on again in 2015 and after last year’s event we were announced as the permanent home of the tournament. So we have made the most of every last penny in what is a total of £104,196 of public money we have received starting with that great catalyst for us, the McGregor Trophy.

“Our MP, Kevan Jones, helped us secure the funding for that tournament and assisted us in other ways.”

The latest grant, from the Flood Relief Fund, came after South Moor’s course was hit by Storm Desmond in December.

Said Carr: “Paths were washed out, making buggy access impossible, and in places they were dangerous and impassable. Elderly and physically impaired golfers were prevented from using the course.

“As a result of the Sport England grant we have been able to plan a refurbishment and a repair program for the paths ready for the start of our 2016 season. We have also made plans to replace a 60 metre underground pipe at the end of the summer.”

MP Jones said: “I was very pleased to hear about this latest funding which provides another welcome boost for the golf club and local community. The club has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, successfully hosting big tournaments, whilst also remaining an important local facility. I look forward to seeing the next stages in the development of the club.”

Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “We appreciate sport isn’t a major priority when people’s lives, homes and businesses are at risk from flooding.

“But once communities are starting to get their lives back to normal, being able to use their local pitch or sports club as usual can make a real difference.

“By launching this fund quickly to help with clean-up and repair costs I hope we can give people affected by the floods one less thing to worry about.

“We are delighted to be able to get this emergency funding to South Moor.”

Community conscious South Moor have introduced a new Lifestyle Membership this year costing £170 and giving a 70% discount off all green fees.

South Moor Golf Club www.southmoorgc.co.uk

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