Bedlingtonshire Golf Club has become only the second club in Northumberland to be granted the prestigious GolfMark Award by the EGU/EWGA. The club's secretary John Laverick is delighted and said: "This has involved a tremendous amount of work and it's taken us something like 12 months plus to get to this point in time. It's not just myself - the Junior Organiser my son Kevin and in particular Marcus Webb our golf professional, have also put in a tremendous amount of work.
"And we are delighted to have achieved the award as it now provides evidence that the club is moving forward and we are committed to supporting the young people at our club and the Bedlington area. We are now providing the three fundamentals of GolfMark, which is coaching, child protection and a nice clubhouse environment for the young people to work from.
"Our academy is moving ahead very well indeed and we have some more coaching coming up throughout July and an ongoing coaching programme which Marcus operates through the schools. We are hoping that through the academy we will get more young people in the locality involved in golf and hopefully they will become members of the golf club in the fullness of time.
"What we operate here which is a little unique is that we give youngsters coming through the academy, the opportunity to become provisional members at a cost of £10. This allows them to use the practice facilities under the supervision of an adult and from that, if they like the game and want to take it up, they can move through to full junior membership."
Jason Budd, the EGU's Regional Development Officer for the North East, is also delighted to see anther club achieving success.
He added: "It is great to work with people like John at Bedlington. We've worked closely to make sure the club has achieved the GolfMark accreditation and hopefully my support has been a big help."
Jason has now been in the job for seven months and enjoying every minute. He said: "I absolutely love it and it's a marvellous opportunity to do something that I'm passionate about. This is the second GolfMark Award in Northumberland. Ponteland Golf Club was the first and Hexham are now working towards their accreditation."
Golf clubs benefit in a number of ways from a GolfMark award. Firstly, they receive recognition within the local community for the club's commitment to junior golf and they receive promotion via the EGU/EWGA websites. Secondly Jason provides assistance in the preparation of focused plans for the development of junior sections and opportunities to review and improve policies and procedures.
With golf clubs providing a safer and more enjoyable environment for junior golf to flourish, this should result in well coached, committed and educated juniors, who may become adult members of the future.
Mark's Just Champion
Sixteen-year-old Mark Smith (pictured) has won the Ryton Golf Club junior championship over two rounds with gross scores of 89 and 89. In addition to this, Mark also won the Junior Highmoor Trophy, played for on the same day with a net score of 142 playing off a handicap of 18.
Mark is also proficient at achieving holes-in-one on his home course as he recently holed out at the par four 10th - 273 yards - with a seven wood.
This was surpassed on the Monday following his weekend Championship win by holing out at the par three 7th and he followed that by holing out at the par three 18th.
Mark's proud grandfather, Bob Donaldson, who is the current club captain, said that this is an achievement many 'seasoned' golfers would be proud of.
Well done Mark.