The improvements at Cocken Lodge have made a big difference and the County Durham complex is now a very attractive prospect for everyone with time constraints as well as for those at either end of the age range. For many ladies and youngsters looking to take up the game, joining a golf club can be a daunting experience and expensive. In recognising this, owner Lucy Holmes and her son Gawain certainly did their homework and have provided an excellent facility for a very big gap in the market.
With a short nine-hole course, newly built club house and a floodlit driving range fitted with the very latest power tees, Cocken Lodge is attracting people of all ages and from all walks of life to the sport.
Lucy said: "We consider Cocken Lodge as a feeder centre for other clubs and are proud of our relaxed friendly attitude. To think we are in a middle of a recession, this year has been really good - we are picking up golfers who can't afford golf club memberships."
They now have approximately 45 ladies who play regularly two days a week and with the course having an official standard ladies scratch score, it is ideal for beginners of any age to mark cards for handicapping purposes.
And with the award of RangeMark, the English Golf Union and English Women's Golf Association national scheme that identifies quality ranges, Cocken Lodge has been recognised as beginner and junior friendly and underlines the fact that the centre has a safe environment for youngsters.
The PGA professional at Cocken Lodge is Julie Welch, who was a late starter in golf and did not become a professional until turning 40, said: "It is much better for boys and girls to start a lot younger than I did and the RangeMark award was without doubt a big feather in our cap - getting youngsters into golf is all about making them feel welcome and their parents knowing they will be looked after.
"We have established a junior academy here with competitions every week and group coaching for both boys and girls. We've also instigated a ladies club where ladies can come and meet other ladies and widen their circle of playing partners and attend social events."
As further recognition of her work with youngsters, the Durham County Golf Partnership has appointed Julie as one of four Academy Coaches to teach children with potential.
Julie concluded: "It's great to be able to teach really young children and ensure they get the basics right when they are still new to golf - I find it enormously rewarding."
The compact clubhouse at Cocken Lodge is fully licensed and open to everyone. There is a range of light meals and snacks on offer along with a children's menu and the facility is available for private parties and business meetings. The centre also offers corporate days for small businesses who can't afford bigger venues.