Festival gives golfers drive

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James Green believes Portsmouth Golf Course’s Festival of Golf is a vital chance to broaden the appeal of the sport.

While the figures are suggesting a national decline in participation, the Crookhorn-based course, with stunning views from Portsdown Hill, has bucked that trend.

But the centre manager is not complacent at seeing numbers on the rise and wants to continue in a similar vein.

As part of the Glendale Golf group’s initiative at seven venues in the country, the facility is hosting a month’s worth of events starting on Saturday, including free coaching for beginners and green fee deals.

And Green is hopeful it could bring a few more regulars to a much-improved course in recent times.

He said: ‘The Festival of Golf is not purely about golf – it’s about trying to open up our doors to the community.

‘It’s about trying to get the golf course out to community centres, schools and other places.

‘And it’s also about trying to generate more interest, trying to break a few barriers down that are attached to golf.

‘I think they are still there. Some people will see the sport as elitist with stuffy rules and regulations.

‘Hopefully, people will come along and take advantage of one of the offers and realise that isn’t so much the case.

‘We’ve had a good influx and we have gained new members.

‘But now we are looking to build on that.’

With a target of introducing 50-100 new golfers to the course, Green is keen to cover the bases on what is on offer with ladies coaching, junior golfers playing for free with a full-paying adult and plenty of other initiatives.

He said: ‘We’ve got plenty of offers on green fees, from beginners to seniors.

‘We’re also doing some free tuition for complete novices who have never picked up a club before and want to give it a go.

‘All the equipment can be provided but booking is recommended.

‘We also have a family fun day with a barbecue and live music towards the end of the month, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the golf but shows what else we can offer.’

While the course in the past has not always been regarded as the best maintained in the region, there has been some real progress.

Green said: ‘We will never be Wentworth.

‘But we’ve had some really good feedback on the course so far this year.

‘We’ve put a lot of work into the quality of the course.

‘The greenkeeper has been really busy and the course has had a lot of work on it.

‘People who might not have visited for a while have been pleasantly surprised.

‘Hopefully a few more people will see it and think the same thing.’