NOW that Longley Park’s Centenary Year is nearing the end, officials at the Aspley-based club are concentrating their efforts on future recruitment.
And with that firmly in mind, the club are waiving the entrance fee for the foreseeable future.
Historically, all clubs used to charge an entrance fee, which sometimes along with first year membership made the total cost prohibitive to many people joining.
However, with the recent recession and many people’s disposable income shrinking, Longley are one of several local clubs to announce they are knocking their entrance fees ‘out of bounds’.
As Centenary captain Paul Phillips explains: “I think every club is now feeling the pinch, and everyone seems to have vacancies.
“It’s not so many years ago that every club had a waiting list, but I’m afraid those times have gone.”
Phillips is nearing the end of his second spell as Longley captain before handing over to Russ Hayden at the club’s annual meeting this month, but has had a fabulous Centenary Year as the club’s figurehead.
“I was first club captain in 2002, but then when it came up to the Centenary Year I think the club felt they wanted a past captain, someone who knew the ropes to take on the role again, and I’ve had a simply great year.
“We’ve held various events, including a Centenary Week, when we had different mixed competitions during the week which were open to all our members, and that culminated in a Summer Ball in July, when we invited visiting captains, including those from the Elland and Ryburn clubs, who were also celebrating their centenaries over the last 12 months.
“Now that busy period has ended, we are seeking to expand our membership, which currently stands at around 250-260 members of all different categories.
“All new members will be made very welcome, and we are particularly keen to expand our junior section, which is already very strong with upwards of 50 members, many of whom are now low handicap golfers.
“In fact our Junior team is virtually a scratch team (Adam Walker is a three handicapper, who recently won the Alliance competition at Crosland Heath), and we are particularly proud of another of our former Juniors Matthew Colcombe, who went on to become the first-ever Longley Park member to win the Halifax, Huddersfield Union Matchplay championship last year.”
Colcombe is not just one of Longley’s leading players, but also one of the Union’s top prospects, and at the annual Union dinner, it was announced he will be the Union’s lead-off man in this season’s Inter-District Union Championship.
“Many of our juniors continue on to senior membership at the club, and we like to think it’s because we have a reputation as being a ‘friendly and very sociable club’,” continued Phillips.
“Our professional John Ambler is also again offering free coaching to our junior and scratch teams during the summer, and this year the club are also making a special offer for anyone taking up full membership, we will give a free 12-month membership to their son or daughter.”
Longley, who signed a new 25-year in 2005, are continually looking to improve, and next on the agenda for renovating are the locker rooms, although at the moment that is dependent on funding.
One area in which they are hoping could perhaps bring that aim forward is by attracting more private parties in the clubhouse.
“Many people probably don’t realise that the club, which can cater for up to 120 people, is available for private functions – and you don’t have to be a member of the club to book it,” added Phillips.
Anyone looking for a function room (in close proximity to the town centre) should call the stewardess Mrs Liz Mason or contact the secretary.
There have been a couple of stages over the first 100 years when the very existence of Longley Park has been threatened, not least in the Fifties, when the then Huddersfield Corporation had earmarked the course for a school playing field before the threat was lifted in 1960.
And then again in the Seventies, the club were informed it would have to make way for the ‘Longwood Freeway’ and Halls of Residence for the Polytechnic, and advised they would have to move to the 18-hole municipal course being planned at Bradley Park.
However, in 1977, Longley’s move to Bradley Park was scrapped because the ‘Longwood Freeway’ idea was abandoned and the Halls of Residence re-sited elsewhere. And finally in 1979, the club were able to sign a 28-year-lease which enabled the to plan for the future – and that planning is still going ahead to hopefully see the club through another hundred years.