THERE may be a credit crunch in some quarters, but it has not affected Woodsome Hall, where the historic Fenay Bridge-based golf club is currently enjoying a real upturn.
And perhaps, it is no surprise that some of that surge in interest coincides with the appointment earlier this year of new golf professional John Eyre, who recently made the short trip across town from Crosland Heath Golf Club.
Eyre spent five years at the Heath, where, among other things, he was largely responsible for the development of tournament professional Chris Hanson. He jumped at the chance to apply for the position at Woodsome when Mike Higginbottom moved on, and promptly took up his new role on March 1st.
“I had some great times at the Heath, but had I not being doing the job I was doing up there then I wouldn’t have got the chance to come to Woodsome,” admitted Eyre.
“It’s definitely the best move I’ve ever made, although it is always a bit daunting when you are stepping into the unknown.
“But the members here have been very supportive of me, and I can’t thank general manager Tracey Mee enough. She has been a great help to me since I arrived at Woodsome.”
One of the first things Eyre took on board when he took up his new position was to completely re-vamp the professional’s shop from top to bottom, and then he turned his attention to one of his primary functions – coaching the juniors.
“Our junior section has just exploded this time,” said Tracey.
“We currently have around 110 – 100 boys and 10 girls – in total, and at least 50 of them are regularly involved in the coaching programme, all of which are run by John.
“And some of them are now really coming along, like the Cox twins, Chris and Oliver, the latter having recently won the Marchant Cup, which is one of our midweek majors. And they, along with Nick Stoy and Mark Hepworth have featured strongly in our junior team this season.
“In fact we now have so many juniors, that we have had to form a junior committee this year.
“The age ranges across the board from 10 to 18-year-olds, and at the moment, we are not saying ‘No’ to any more youngsters who may be thinking of joining the club.”
But it’s not just the junior section which is enjoying a real upsurge, because all the different elements at the club seem to be flourishing this summer.
“The numbers are up for many of our big competitions,” continued Tracey.
“We had 160 playing in the Captain’s Day, 180 on the Invitation Day, which is the most we’ve ever had, and the Seniors’ Open was so popular it was actually over-subscribed, and we have had to split it into two, with the second half of the competition now taking place on September 15.
“Similarly we had 220 entries for the Gentlemen’s Open and 156 for the Mixed Open, so there is a real buzz about the club now.”
Woodsome Hall won a lot of acclaim (as did Huddersfield) for offering ‘courtesy rounds’ to Meltham members during their problems over the Winter and Spring after the greens had been destroyed at the Thick Hollins Club, and the two clubs received a number of grateful letters of thanks for their generous gesture.
“We were able to offer them two courtesy fourballs on four days, and we had a big take-up from Meltham’s members,” and so many people took the trouble to thank the club, which was really appreciated,” added Tracey.
“We have also refurbished the Dartmouth Room, which is now open to casual dress all day, every up until 7pm, and we have also made a big effort to ensure everything else, like the catering side, is just right.
“There is certainly a renewed interest in the club, and I think some of that has to be down to our recent progressive-thinking captains like past captain Richard Williams, current captain Geoff Heady and captain-elect Graham Cox.
“Our visiting parties are up, and we are still receiving applications, so yes, there is a definite vibrancy at the club at the moment.”
Another string to Woodsome’s bow has been the arrival (albeit part-time) of another top tournament pro, David Astin, who is attached to Hebden Bridge, but is now playing out of Woodsome and is currently running introductory sessions to wives and friends of members.
Eyre and Astin recently teamed up in pro tournament, and both are still anxious to play in more, but certainly in Eyre’s case, coaching takes up so much of his time.
For as well as looking after Woodsome’s membership, he is also chief coach for the Halifax, Huddersfield District Union, the Yorkshire Juniors and the Yorkshire Girls.
As Eyre admitted, his arrival at Woodsome has been a tremendous career-move, and you get the feeling that his new club are equally satisfied with the arrangement.