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seaton carew junior membership

This club has ditched membership fees for all kids

Seaton Carew are offering free membership for junior golfers. Chiefs at the 150-year-old club explain why they’ve made the gesture

 

This is what it should mean when golf talks about “growing the game”. Seaton Carew GC are giving free membership to junior golfers under 18.

The County Durham club, who celebrate their 150th birthday this year, have made the gesture to “allow the next generation to flourish in this part of the country”.

One of the oldest clubs in England, Seaton Carew have staged a host of national championships down the decades and were historically renowned for producing a conveyor belt of county and professional talent.

But numbers have dwindled in recent years, despite the course being lauded in recent Top 100 rankings and adult male membership reaching capacity.

So chiefs at the seaside links, which was designed by the likes of Dr Alister MacKenzie and Frank Pennink, have taken action to make membership more accessible to those taking their first steps in the game.

“We didn’t have a large junior membership, unlike some clubs, and it was something we recognised we wanted to grow,” explained Secretary Roy Leonard.  

“Being the first club in Durham, and the first club in Yorkshire, we’ve got a responsibility to bring more people into golf and through the junior ranks. It was that which made us think, ‘how can we attract more people?’

Seaton Carew

Seaton Carew junior membership: ‘We were hoping to be the first in the area, but not the last’

“When we started looking at it, we recognised that golf is quite an expensive game to take up. You’re probably talking almost £1,000 before you’ve got all the gear that you need. Anything on top of that is just going to make it more and more difficult for people to consider taking up the sport.

“We just felt that if we made membership free, that at least that would go some way to helping.”

He added: “In the past we’ve produced players that ended up going on the pro tour so it’s something where, sadly, we’ve seen that decline over the past few years and we haven’t been producing a level of golfer that a course of this stature ought to be.”

Club manager Alex Shaw added he hopes Seaton Carew’s scheme can be an example for others in the region to follow.

“If we’re frank, we were hoping to be the first one in the area, but not the last one,” he said. “Durham County is a very small county. There are only 40-odd clubs in Durham. We’re hoping that, by doing this, we can set an example to other clubs – to help drive them on to growing the game.

“Kids have so much demand on their time now. They have so many different hobbies. Something like this is only going to help golf clubs. These are the players for the next 50 or 60 years.

“Even if they don’t stay with us, I’ll guarantee they will come back to Seaton Carew because that’s what we see – juniors who went away, started lives, and ended up coming back to the club because it’s the place they have some affinity and loyalty because of how well they were looked after.”

Now have your say

What do you think about this Seaton Carew junior membership gesture? Does your club do something similar? Why not let me know with a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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