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Tim settles in at Bransford

Bransford GC inWorcester has a new PGA Head Professional, and at 23 years of age he is one of the youngest in the country to hold such a position.
Tim Shephard – who has been at the club for the past four years as assistant professional, has taken over the running of the club’s pro’ shop from Richard Jenkins, who left the course earlier this summer.
Shephard has been playing golf for 13 years and has been in the professional ranks for the past three.
He first began his golfing career in his late teens at Evesham, his home town club.
“It was great working there, learning the ins-and-outs of how a pro shop runs, and after that I had an opportunity to start my PGA career at Bransford back in September 2015,” said Shephard.
“I am thrilled to be the club’s new Head PGA professional. It has given me a fuller insight into how other departments work and how various parts of the business, such as our neighbouring Bank House Hotel, communicate. These are all vital skills I am now learning.
“What is really great is that I enjoy working at this family-friendly golf club which has great facilities and staff.
Shephard, who was educated at Bengeworth First School, Simon de Montford Middle School and Prince Henry High, was also a student at Hartpury Agricultural College in Gloucestershire where he gained a diploma in golf.
During his time at Bransford he has been busy building a strong reputation in teaching the sport he loves, while also working on developing the junior side of the golf club.
He says: “There were no juniors when I started here – now have 20 and half of them are members”.
He has also been cementing a great relationship with members and has played in a number of Pro-Am competitions with club members of the club.
He also has fresh ideas for the pro shop which has already been revamped and restyled. There’s also new stock coming in and has other plans yet to be implemented, including Ping custom fitting.
He says his aims in the near future are:
  • To continue to help develop the skills of a very strong golf membership and teaching facility for members and the public at Bransford golf club.
  • To increase membership both male and female, but especially  targeting juniors.
  • And to maintain what he feels is already an incredible relationship with the members.
Meanwhile, the club’s assistant professional, Ollie Walker, is planning to head off to the United States next month on a golf scholarship.
He is planning to be based in Arizona at the Estrella Mountain College, having been offered a place in the their golf team which consists of players from around the world. 
Walker, who is aged 20, says: “This will include studying hard for a degree like any other university student, but I will be playing every day for the golf team in competitions throughout America. This will be for three to four years, and hopefully for the last two years i can obtain a full scholarship so I don’t have to pay anything – hopefully transferring to a bigger university for my last two senior years.”
But first of all he has to raise funds to achieve his goal of getting to the States and the first year of the course is fairly expensive compared to the latter years.
The target is to raise £10,000 pounds!
Walker says: “If all goes according to plan and I do well in the first year, the latter years’ costs will drop dramatically. A lot will depend on my golf ability and gaining as higher a scholarship as possible.”
He says the money raised will be put towards the cost of books and the course itself, his living expenses for accommodation and food, and some of the travel to and from events.
Fundraising has been underway for a few weeks and numerous club members have already signed up to sponsor him, but he says that if there is anyone in the area who would also like to support him, such as a local business, he would be delighted to hear from them.
He said: “It is my dream to go to America and by giving any amount you wish, however small, will help me achieve this goal.”
A popular figure in the pro shop and around the course, Walker is the Worcestershire Men’s County Amateur Champion and the county’s best under-21 player, and is driven by the ambition of carving out a successful future in the sport.
Tim Shephard

Ollie Walker

He says he remembers his early struggles when he first tried his hand at golf, attempting to break 100 when he was a junior but now he plays off a 0.3 handicap – achieved in five years of hard work and practise.
He has also figured prominently in a number of club competitions over the past year or so and has also been competing in numerous opens and pro-ams, along with six England golf events.
One of his successes last year was beating a field of 143 to win the Stewart Smith Open Challenge (Scratch) when he managed a score of -2 through 18 holes and a play-off. In the three man play-off he won with a birdie on the first hole.
It’s an impressive record for only two years of competitive golf and now he hopes what he can learn in America will help further his playing career.
Anyone wishing to assist Walker’s America plan can make contact with him at Bransford Golf Club’s pro shop on 01886 833621.




Rugby Golf Club hits the mark


Rugby Golf Club in Warwickshire has won a national award from England Golf, in recognition of its drive to grow the game

The club, which is actively recruiting new members and widening its community links, has just received the GolfMark Award for the second time. This is an official seal of approval for clubs which successfully work to develop the game.

Rugby is a private members’ club with an 18 hole golf course in Clifton Road and an established partnership with Leam Valley Golf Centre. It has recently attracted 26 new members – in various categories – by holding an open day for the local community.


The event was so successful that another open day will be held in September and it will become an annual event.


Club Secretary Andrew Leech, who led the club’s push to GolfMark, commented: “We are delighted to receive this prestigious award. It not only recognises our aim to provide challenging golf for golfers of all abilities, but to be an asset within the Rugby community.


“We are doing all we can to encourage juniors and adults to take up or return to golf. This award will help RGC, drawing on all its 127 years of history, to continue to offer a warm, friendly, safe and secure environment for golf, retaining our traditions whilst modernising and adapting our offer to members, visitors and societies.


“We will use this platform, in partnership with Leam Valley Golf Centre, to take golf into schools and the wider community and will do our best to attract under-represented groups into golf.”


The award was presented to club Captain Karl Walker by Hayley Noel, England Golf’s Club Support Officer for Warwickshire (pictured).


Hayley said “I’m delighted that Rugby Golf Club has achieved GolfMark and that its efforts to grow the game can be nationally recognised.”


The GolfMark award was developed by England Golf and also integrates Sport England’s Clubmark award – a national standard for quality sports clubs recognised across the country.


Successful clubs develop the game by:


  • Attracting new members and encouraging existing members to play more
  • Using practical business planning to develop the club
  • Offering coaching and playing opportunities for all golfers
  • Ensuring safeguarding policies are in place


GolfMark brings a number of benefits to clubs including raising awareness, access to funding, business and marketing support and training opportunities for staff and volunteers. To find out more visit www.golfmark.org




Ilona Stubley and Mike Browne

Golf Stars drive to a World Record

It wasn’t just the temperatures that were soaring this week as some of the longest drivers in the country sent their balls flying down the runway at RAF Honington.  American Golf challenged some of the Long Drive stars who’ll be appearing at its 2018 U.K. Long Drive Final this August to set various Long Drive World Records and in doing so help celebrate the anniversaries of On Course Foundation and the RAF.

First up on the temporary tee positioned at the end of the 900 yard main runway at RAF Honington was On Course Foundation beneficiary and Gecko Tour player, Mike Browne.  Despite never taking part in Long Drive before, Mike, who is a single leg amputee, belted a staggering 564.65 yard drive using Callaway Epic Driver to record the longest ever golf drive by a single leg amputee.

MIke Browne

Mike Browne, Long Drive world record attempt
RAF Honington, Suffolk, UK

What is most remarkable about Mike’s World Record is that before his leg was amputated in 2013 he had never hit a golf ball.  He commented, “I have never done anything like this before so I can’t believe how well I struck the ball! I was at my lowest ebb when I came across the sport for the first time with On Course Foundation.  Since then it has taken me to some incredible places and enabled me to do some amazing things, but setting a World Record, whether it’s official or not, has to be one of the highlights.”

Mike Browne

Mike Browne, Long Drive world record attempt
RAF Honington, Suffolk, UK

Using her Callaway Rogue Driver, current American Golf U.K. Long Drive Champion Ilona Stubley hit a remarkable 460.94 yard drive to set a new (unofficial) Long Drive World Record for women.  Since winning the American Golf U.K. Long Drive Championship last year Ilona has been training for the sport and her consistent performance today bears testament to that.

Ilona Stubley

Ilona Stubley, Long Drive world record attempt
RAF Honington, Suffolk, UK

She commented, “I’ve worked really hard this winter to make sure that I am in great shape to defend my title at Chester Racecourse in August, so when American Golf invited me to try and set a Long Drive World Record in the meantime I was obviously delighted to take part.  It’s been a fantastic day and it was great to see everyone else perform, including the golf team from the RAF.”

Ilona Stubley

Ilona Stubley, Long Drive world record attempt
RAF Honington, Suffolk, UK


Ilona Stubley

Ilona Stubley, Long Drive world record attempt
RAF Honington, Suffolk, UK

The biggest hitter of the day was Long Drive European Tour Champion and American Golf staff member Matt Nicolle.  He smashed his Callaway ball 657.44 yards, which is shorter than some of the unofficial records out there, but is the longest drive on a flat surface using conforming golf equipment and will be submitted to Guinness for their consideration alongside the other two records.

Matt Nicolle

Matt Nicole, Long Drive world record attempt
RAF Honington, Suffolk, UK

All the records were documented and verified by independent adjudicators including members of the RAF, who kindly donated their time and their runway as part of their own 100th Anniversary celebrations.  Matt Bacon, Head of Events at American Golf, thanked them for their assistance, “It’s been a pleasure to be here with the RAF and OCF today.  We can’t thank them enough for arranging the loan of their runway and for helping us collect all the evidence we need to submit the records to Guinness.  I can’t think of more reliable witnesses, so we’re confident the applications are in safe hands!”

Photograph Credit: Mark Newcombe/visionsingolf.com




Heathland win for Yarham & Palfrey


There was a sensational finish to the 2018 Heathland Classic where the last few holes were decisive in determining who was going to be crowned the eventual winners.
The 3 day pairs event held at the areas three premier courses opened this year at Lindrick. With the greens running fast with a gusting wind the leading score of 44 pts from Dean Whitehouse & John Richardson (Sandhill GC/Hickleton GC) was enough to give them a narrow one point first leg lead from Howley Hall GC’s Martin Smith & Glen Arnison and Mark Duffin & Bernie Clark (Burghley Park GC/Sleaford GC).
Lindrick Golf Club
The next day was at Notts where the wind had strengthened significantly and points were not going to be surrendered easily by the course which is due to stage the final Open Qualification stage shortly. An admirable 42 pts from Gainsborough GC’s Jeremy Hague & Jonathan Stokes were the winners on the day with James Hartle & Sam Knight (Ladbroke Park GC/Sutton Coldfield GC) and the Smith Arnison partnership again in the prizes with 41 pts.
Going in to the final day Smith and Arnison held the overall lead, a healthy 4 points ahead of Whitehouse & Richardson, with a host of teams a further 5 points adrift. Both the favourites went out together in reverse leaderboard order in what threatened to be a title deciding shootout unless the chasing pack could produce something exceptional.
A glorious day greeted the players at Sherwood Forest where conditions were almost perfect. The 4th hole gave all the players an early chance of winning £5,000 for a Hole in One but after a few early shouts sadly there were no takers for the suitcase full of cash.
Back with the main prize it was outsiders Mark Yarham & Andrew Palfrey who set the pace with an incredible 47 points in a round that contained 11 net birdies and no dropped shots to put them on 124 pts overall and into first place.
As the later starters completed their rounds the nervous wait continued as a number of contenders failed to challenge their total. Hague & Stokes were left to regret a couple of bogies on the front nine but recovered brilliantly to post 46 points. Overall they were behind Yarham & Palfrey only on countback with one score left to be recorded.
But the overnight leaders and favourites Smith & Arnison struggled on Sherwood’s demanding back nine managing  only 17 points to come up with 38 pts, agonisingly one short of the leaders with a total score of 123 pts.
So in what was a very tense and thrilling climax to the 54 hole event, the 2018 Heathland Classic Trophy went to the members from Burghley Park GC & Knole GC, Mark Yarham (5 handicap) and pal Andrew Palfrey (8 handicap) with rounds of 40, 37 and 47 to give them a winning total of 124 to take home various goodies including a Ping Tour bag and over £500 worth of vouchers each.
Tournament Director Luke Allen said “the courses were in first class conditions, the greens were all very fast and true and the windy weather made things a real challenge. The standard of play was exceptional, some great scores and the atmosphere at the awards ceremony was just fantastic.  The final day 47 points certainly was a surprise but in this format a big number is always possible and teams are always in there with a chance. The spirit from the competitors has been really positive all week and I’m sure everyone enjoyed the challenge. Congratulations to the winners and hopefully the rest will try again next year.
Entries open in November   http://heathlandgolfclassic.co.uk




Major award for Anders


Golf coach Anders Mankert, who changes lives through the sport, was honoured last night with England Golf’s Lifetime Service Award, sponsored by Bridgestone.

Mankert, from Cosby Golf Club, Leicestershire, was recognised at the England Golf Awards at the Royal Lancaster London, which highlighted all that’s great about golf in England.

Mankert was celebrated for the difference he has made to blind and visually impaired golfers and to young players making their way in the game.

Guests at the glittering, black tie event – including influential figures from across the sport, volunteers, coaches, clubs and counties – applauded Mankert for his remarkable volunteer contributions which span more than two decades.

He was nominated by blind students who put him forward for “being a unique inspiration and primarily for introducing us to the sport which has changed our life!” The judges agreed, commenting: “Anders has literally given time, expertise and selfless dedication over 20 years, helping to extend the game’s inclusivity.”

Mankert said of his award: “It’s not why I do it, but it’s a lovely, lovely thing to be recognised for your efforts and to know that people actually care. It’s quite humbling and it’s the most amazing thing that has happened in my career.”

His story begins back in the mid-1990s when he saw a group of blind and visually impaired players making weekly visits to a golf range. He realised he could help them, tentatively offered his services and has been working with them, and others, ever since, without charging a penny. “We have just carried on for the next 20 years!” he said.

Mankert, an Advanced Fellow of the PGA and an honorary life member of the England and Wales Blind Golf Association, does far more than teach the technical skills. When one of his students was unable to find an all-important guide to accompany him on the course, he persuaded a local newspaper to feature the blind golfer – with the result that 17 people volunteered to help.

When other students, often unable to work, cannot afford golf club subscriptions he contacts local clubs to ask if they will waive their fees. Some willingly open their doors, but it can also be a tough task – Mankert wrote to 15 clubs on behalf of one player and didn’t receive a single reply.

But the setbacks are far outweighed by the achievements. The player who was very depressed after losing his sight overnight and is now British No 1, has competed in world championships and counts Mankert as a personal friend. The visually impaired girl who is now able to play weekly golf with her dad. The young offender who almost blinded his victim with a shot from an air rifle and was ordered by a judge to act as a blind person’s carer for a week. “It was genius,” said Mankert, who described how the surly, unhelpful young man transformed into a phenomenal carer.

There’s also satisfaction achieved by player after player. “It strikes me that golf must be the hardest possible game for a blind person to take up,” said Mankert. “But I think they feel that if they can play golf and see some progress they can pretty much have a go at anything and you can see their confidence growing.”

There’s also satisfaction for Mankert. “I get masses out of this. I have really enjoyed it, it’s very rewarding to see how something small on my part, giving up a little bit of time, has had such a tremendous impact. It’s unbelievable.”

Mankert also runs a scholarship programme offering young golfers the opportunity to work like a tour pro for a year. They receive unlimited coaching and mentoring from Mankert together with support from specialists such as a physiotherapist and a dietician.

He’s just awarded his sixth scholarship, selecting the winner from 387 applicants from across the country. One of his former protégées, Ryan Evans, is now a European Tour player, and another is a PGA professional, while all have improved their golf and grown personally and in confidence.

“When I was young lots of people helped me and so it’s quite important to give a bit back, it just feels the right thing to do,” said Mankert.

Main feature image: Anders Mankert (left) receives his award from Stuart Attfield on behalf of event sponsors Bridgestone.




Rushcliffe gc

New Rushcliffe challenge for Marc


The Rushcliffe Golf Club has recently appointed a new Club Manager.  Marc Valentine, 27 years old from Loughborough, has been tasked with building on the fantastic work that has taken place at The Rushcliffe Golf Club over the last few years. 

Alongside a fantastic course, The Rushcliffe Golf Club has a brilliant set of staff members with passionate Greenstaff and Golf Pro who work tirelessly for the good of the Club.

MV Rushcliffe gc manager

Marc Valentine


Having previously worked in a business development role for a leading University, Marc brings with him a skill set focused on business engagement, social media marketing and events management.  In his previous role he was responsible for engaging with some of the largest organisations in the world and directly contributed to the organisation and running of the UK’s largest university careers fair, an event which catered for over 240 organisations and 7,000 students.

Marc is passionate about developing the The Rushcliffe Golf Club brand and embracing technology in order to do so.  His aim is to secure the long-term future success of the Club by continuing to develop the fantastic golfing product and facilities available.



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