The first birthday celebrations for Anders Mankert’s new 9-hole Gallops course at Oadby, near Leicester, were more muted than originally planned because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

But nothing could undermine the sheer delight that Mankert, an award-winning PGA Advanced Fellow, could feel in its success.

The course was the second phase of his redevelopment plans at the former Oadby council-run course which closed 9 years ago.

In the first phase two years ago, he created a 16-bay covered driving range. Each bay was fitted with a television screen and the latest high-tech Toptracer technology, which enables visitors to try their skills on some of the world’s top courses.

This has proved extremely popular and soon after that – a year ago – he opened the

rebuilt course, including three totally new holes. There are three different tees with a championship course of 3,000 yards, 35 par.

Since the reopening on part of the site (he did not acquire the lease of the remaining 9-holes within the boundary of the Leicester racecourse) he has gained many plaudits for what he describes as “my dream come true” to control and run his own course.

He has no rules and the relaxed, friendly, welcoming attitude has won great acclaim. The lockdown has given him good opportunities too to work on new plans, including  short game practice areas, although he admits the new putting green needs a little longer to reach his own high standards.

But he added: “These practice facilities are among the very best available anywhere in the county with visitors able to hit approach and chip, pitch and bunker shots, which are, of course, vital to the improvement of any golfer trying to achieve his or her full potential in the game.

“The response throughout the time since I have taken over here has been truly fantastic and the course itself has never looked better in the 50 years since it was

originally built, so I am thrilled. In fact, a former Captain of the old Oadby course said it is now better than it has ever been!”

“But I have been working extremely hard myself on all the mowing, although fortunately, the weather these last few weeks has been good – fine and warm – which has helped.”

A few months ago, Mankert received totally unsolicited praise from the Royal and Ancient Club of St Andrews chairman Ian Pattinson, who sent a warm, handwritten letter to him.

In it he described Mankert’s efforts as “absolutely brilliant,” and added: “I think what you are doing is just great. Very many congratulations and keep up the good work you are doing to get new people into our game.”

Mankert said: “I was thrilled to receive such a letter, but more delighted really, of course, that the facilities here have been so well received since we opened.”

“Since the lockdown restrictions were eased recently, we have been busier than ever, so it is great to see visitors, new and old, here enjoying themselves again.”

Under Mankert’s enthusiastic leadership youngsters too are well provided for at his club, with his assistant Tom James running a junior academy on a regular basis. The juniors can progress through the award of different coloured caps to the black cap stage when they are judged proficient to go out on to the Gallops course to develop further.

Mankert added: “I look forward to the lockdown restrictions being lifted fully as soon as it is judged safe to do so, so golf can move forward fully and hopefully we can all enjoy a busy end to the current difficult season.”