Sturminster Marshall Golf Club in Dorset has just become the first in the country to achieve England Golf’s new GolfMark award - a national accreditation that has been designed to support all golf clubs.

Sturminster Marshall Golf Club in Dorset has just become the first in the country to achieve England Golf’s new GolfMark award.

“It’s always nice to be first,” said club owner and PGA professional Mike Dodd. “We are a pro-active club working at grass roots to get people into golf and this award underlines that we’re doing everything the right way.”

GolfMark, which was originally started in 2006, has been updated and relaunched to make it more relevant in today’s challenging commercial landscape.

The new scheme has an increased focus on development and business support and a GolfMark club is one which takes positive action to:

• to recruit and retain members
• to plan effectively for the future
• to offer coaching and playing opportunities for all golfers
• to have the right policies and procedures in place to safeguard members of all ages.

GolfMark, which incorporates Sport England’s ClubMark award, has been hugely successful since it was first launched in 2006. A total of 766 clubs achieved the award under the previous system and over 200 are already working towards the new award.

They’re led by Sturminster Marshall, which has long been a supporter of the scheme and was one of the first clubs in Dorset to get the original GolfMark award.

“It helps you to focus on any areas where you need to tune up and it keeps you on your toes, makes sure everything is up to scratch. We have a short nine-hole course and a purpose built driving range with a classroom and a practice area,” said Mike.

“We have about 250 members and probably 200 of them will have come through our coaching programmes. Some move on to other clubs but we always have new people and our membership never goes down.”

The club works closely with the Dorset Golf Partnership and is one of its Get into golf centres, offering a course of six group lessons for adult beginners for £30, together with a range of other packages. The club is involved in the Dorset Tour, which offers playing opportunities to new golfers who have gone through the Get into golf scheme. Sturminster Marshall also hosts Feel Inspired sessions for golfers with disabilities.

Mike has a thriving junior academy and he set up the EZGO Junior Tour which gives children of all standards the chance to play different courses and meet other golfers. He is also one of the coaches with the Dorset Academy.

Dee Wood, who recently retired as Dorset County Development Officer, worked with Mike to achieve the new GolfMark and commented: “All credit to him. Mike thrives on working with beginners and juniors and there’s always something for everyone going on at the club.”

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Caption: Mike Dodd with Dee Wood (left), who has just retired as Dorset County Development Officer, and Elaine Barrow, who has taken on the role.