SiP 17 – Arkley Golf Course

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Arkley Golf Course

Arkley Golf Course is a top-rated 9-hole course on the border of North London and Hertfordshire. Sport in Profile Magazine recently caught up with Chair Wendy Living to find out more.

SIP: How long have you been involved and what first attracted you to the club? 

WL: I took up golf when I joined Arkley 25 years ago. At the time I had a one year old daughter and a full-time job. I must have been mad to think I would find time to play golf! At the club I found nothing but friendliness and encouragement and that is no different today.

Arkley is one of the most welcoming clubs you could find. Today, as an experienced golfer, I would be attracted by the quality of the course, which is tight and tree-lined, with fast greens – a good test of your handicap.

SIP: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your role? 

WL: The challenges of running a golf club are no different to running a business – we have to keep our stakeholders (members) happy, ensure we stay solvent and try to grow the business.

The difference for Arkley is that we rely on volunteers to carry out many of the functions that, in other clubs, would be done by paid professionals. The biggest reward is working with a team of very committed individuals who do act like professionals and knowing that I can rely on them absolutely.

SIP: How would you say 2017 has gone for the club?

WL: 2017 was a great year for Arkley. Our women’s team won the Hertfordshire County Pearson Championship for the first time in our history – a fantastic achievement for a club with 47 playing women golfers.

SIP: What are your plans for 2018? 

WL: In 2018 we plan to focus on raising the profile of the club. Arkley has been in existence for almost 110 years and we are one of the top-rated 9-hole courses in the country (Golf Monthly), yet there are many golfers who have never heard of us. We also hope to build on our Pearson success by encouraging more women to play.

As for the course, we have already made a start on relaying two tees, which will be back in play by the start of the new golfing season. To retain existing members and attract new ones, it is vital that the quality of the course is maintained.

SIP: How important is youth development to the club?

WL: Youth development is very important to us. We are very lucky to have a golfing professional, Kevin Evans, who loves to teach. He runs an after-school club at a local junior school and offers junior group lessons on Saturdays for £6 per hour.

We provide equipment; the kids just need comfortable clothing. There are golf camps at Easter and in the summer school holidays and fun family events throughout the year where juniors are encouraged to get out on the course and play. Once juniors achieve a handicap they are able to play in club competitions.

We also hold a Junior Open, which will be on Sunday 2nd September this year and two schools challenges where we invite local schools to compete against each other. If juniors wish to become members there are various graduated membership rates for juniors and young adults starting at £175 and a special 9 hole junior membership for 6-14 year olds for £99 for the year.

SIP: Have you any advice for people interested in getting involved in the club?

WL: If you’ve never hit a golf ball then join our beginner’s group lessons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (£6 per hour). You don’t need to be a member, all you need is comfortable sports clothes and footwear; we can provide clubs. These sessions are a great first step into golf, relaxed and a lot of fun. We recently had six new women members join us from these lessons.

If you’re an experienced golfer, then just pop into our pro shop or office for a chat and get out on the course. There’s no waiting around for a tee time at Arkley. We have a justifiable reputation for being a very friendly and inclusive club. We are run by our members so if you’re someone who likes to be involved we have various committees you can join so you really feel like you’re part of something.

SIP: Could you tell us more about the Big Pub Challenge?

WL: We run several events throughout the year where non-members can play in competitions, one of which is the Big Pub Challenge on Friday 9th March.  Local pubs and sports clubs enter teams of four; it’s enormous fun, very relaxed and a great way for players who aren’t necessarily members of a golf club to experience competitive golf and a club environment.

SIP: What do you believe could be some of the biggest challenges the club may face in the next five years? 

WL: In common with many golf clubs, the greatest challenge we face is ageing membership. We are addressing this by offering graduated membership rates to attract younger golfers and those who might not have time to play 18 holes. As a 9-hole course, with 18 tees, we are uniquely placed to offer fast and flexible golf to suit modern lifestyles. In fact the layout of our course means you can play 5, 9 or 14 holes and be back at the club house.

The impact of climate change must not be underestimated. As our winters grow wetter, warmer and windier, our course managers are adapting the way they manage the course to keep it open and playable for as many days as possible throughout the year.

SIP: What are the clubs ambitions for the next five years?

WL: To increase our profile, grow our membership, get more women and juniors playing, and respond to the changing needs of the modern golfer.

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