There aren’t many courses where you can gaze at a 1,000-year-old cathedral as you wait your turn to putt. Neither is there a long list that comprise of not 18, or even 9 holes, but 11.
These are just a couple of things that make playing a round at Heworth Golf Club – York’s city centre course – anything but a run-of-the-mill experience.
Even so the club, like many others, had to battle hard during the financial downturn and are continually hunting for new faces in a crowded marketplace.
Their pro, Jamie Ashworth, is there when he’s not helping customers in his main role at American Golf.
But there is something of a revival happening at a course that is renowned for its tight fairways, good greens and for starting a lot of North Yorkshire players on their golfing journey.
We asked Jamie what Heworth are up to and what they are doing with younger players to bring through the next generation…
Heworth is a very quirky course in that it’s 11 holes, a number of which are played twice to make 18. There can’t be too many of those about…
I can’t think of another one, so it must be unique. People used to be put off by 11 because it’s not 18, and they don’t think they are getting value. But the game is changing. People don’t have the time and they have young families. What we have been looking to do is build the junior section.
You offer free membership for juniors…
Yes, up to 16. If you can encourage the kids to start then, hopefully, their parents will come down and join as well. We’ve talked about a kind of ‘lads and dads’ thing. If we can get the juniors in, and their parents follow, that would be massive for us. There have also been a lot of improvements at Heworth and one end of the clubhouse has been completely refurbished.
What else have you been doing?
We’ve updated the website and streamlined the membership. We’re trying to make it a bit more simple for people to understand the price. For ladies’ coaching, we have signed up to the Get into Golf scheme. We’re trying to encourage lady members and trying to get their partners to join. It has been quite successful.
Are you optimistic about Heworth’s future?
We are going in the right direction. In the last few months, since we have started advertising a small amount, we have seen a number of new members.
That’s fantastic because it is very competitive. York is not flooded but there are a lot of courses. There is a lot of competition.
We still have a lot of very local postcodes as members – because it is perfect for them and there is a hardcore of groups that come down and play. It’s easily accessible and we just need to promote it more through social media.