England and Wales (North) Region
19 Mar 14
A family-owned business has transformed a rundown golf facility into a centre of excellence.
Richard Carpenter, his wife Gail and son James (above left) took over Leisure Lakes driving range and nine-hole course near Tarleton three years ago and renamed it Southport Golf Academy.
The project has been so successful that in a relatively short space of time they have been presented with the coveted RangeMark certification.
It's awarded by England Golf to stand-alone ranges at the forefront of developing the game at all levels and the academy fulfilled the criteria through sheer graft and determination.
Richard is managing director and oversees marketing, James is golf director and Gail is an equal partner while PGA Professionals Richard Benyon and Matthew Allen-Chilman are in charge of coaching.
"Fewer than 40 facilities in England have attained RangeMark and only a couple in Lancashire so we are so proud to have qualified," said James, 25, formerly in corporate sales at De Vere Mottram Hall.
"We have also just become affiliated to the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs which was something we worked for over the past couple of years," he added.
"We do a lot of junior coaching and we regard ourselves as the first stepping stone for people coming into the game. Our course has eight par three holes and one par four and is wide open and accessible for everyone."
The academy is used by Lancashire Ladies County Golf Association for coaching girls and this year will also cater for under-14 boys.
James, whose family lives in Croston near Chorley, added: "A major part of our objective is to bring people of all ages and abilities into the game and help them develop - it's a great place to start and eventually leads to club membership and official handicaps."
Iain Lancaster, Lancashire County Golf Partnership development officer, said: "Not only does the venue have to provide the right facilities in terms of practise, the coaches have to have the best qualifications, utilise approved teaching methods and have completed a range of specialist training in dealing with children."
England Golf is promoting a major Get into Golf campaign at venues such as Southport Golf Academy and provides free taster sessions, and low cost courses of lessons for beginners of all ages.
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