Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club aims to help boost local economy after Covid pandemic

A South Lakeland golf club is keen to play its part to help the local area bounce back following the coronavirus pandemic.

The iconic tee shot at the par 5 10th hole at Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club.
The iconic tee shot at the par 5 10th hole at Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club.

Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club would like to increase its membership but it also wants to help boost the local economy by attracting visitors to the area.

It has set up a range of ‘Stay and Play’ offers with local hotels. The staycation packages include accommodation, meals and rounds of golf at the picturesque club, which nestles in the lovely Lune Valley between Casterton and Barbon.

It is also creating a special promotional leaflet - ‘Destination Kirkby Lonsdale’ - aimed at encouraging people to visit the area and take in a round of golf at the same time.

Golfers enjoying the sunshine on the 9th hole at Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club.

“The idea is to attract golfers with their partners and families for ‘stay and play’ visits to the area,” said club member Robin Ree. “We are in South Lakeland and the Yorkshire Dales National Park and close to the Lake District. This is fabulous walking country and the town of Kirkby Lonsdale has such a lot to offer.”

There was a resurgent interest in golf, locally and nationally, said golf club secretary and manager David Towers. “We enjoyed the best first week in April for five years - there is a real hunger for golf,” he said.

Membership is on the increase and stands at around 380 members, including an active and growing group of lady members.

The club has various initiatives planned to attract even more members.

PGA Trainee Professional Ellie Broome teaching juniors at Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club.

PGA Trainee Professional Ellie Broome has boosted the number of juniors, aged from five to 18, at the club to around 60 over the past year by running regular Saturday classes and school holiday golfing camps when Covid restrictions allowed.

“We are also making contact with local schools to encourage their pupils to come along and are looking to organise an inter schools golf competition here later this year,” said vice-captain Graham Bywater.

The club has a six-hole academy course for use by juniors and those beginning to learn the game.

The club recognises that it is vital to attract juniors to the game because they are the next generation and future of the sport.

Ellie Broome and Head PGA professional John Twissell are running two ‘Get into Golf’ beginners’ classes - a ladies group and a mixed group. Meanwhile the club has applied to Golf England to be able to help deliver its Girls Golf Rocks initiative.

The pandemic has been tough on the club, suspending its income intermittently over a full year.

But the club has taken the opportunity during the lockdowns to refurbish the clubhouse. The greenkeeping team has continued to work and has improved the playing surfaces. Covers for four of the ten driving range bays adjacent to the club have also been added.

It had been ‘frustrating’ not to be able to play golf for so long and there was now a sense of ‘total relief’ that players could get back on the course, said Mr Ree.

The club was established in 1906 and has been at its present site since 1991. The 18-hole course measures 6,594 yards and is laid out in more than 160 acres of spectacular countryside. The layout provides two nine-hole loops out and back to the clubhouse.

Each of the holes has its own unique character and has four tee options, providing different degrees of difficulty.

The River Lune and Barbon Beck both run through the course, which offers amazing views of Barbon Fell and the Howgills.

The course is also a haven for wildlife, including roe deer, rabbits, hares, stoats and weasels. There is a heronry and nesting swans, ducks and geese on the lake.

The club runs various local charity initiatives. Lady captain Kate Hampshire has chosen Cumbria Wildlife Trust as her charity and with help from members has been able to put up bird boxes and plant wildflower seeds to increase the biodiversity around the course.

The clubhouse includes a bar and Fairways Restaurant, open to club members and the public. It is a popular stop-off point for groups of walkers enjoying the many local trails and can also be hired as a function room. Drinks and food can now be served outside on the terrace and the club is looking forward to when it can offer hospitality indoors.

Other facilities include a swing room with launch monitor to track the ball’s launch angle, flight and spin rate; a short game chipping area and a pro shop selling equipment and clothing.

The club runs various competitions including opens which are very popular with visitors and is considering trying to host Pro-Am tournaments.

A variety of membership deals are available but people can book to play even if they are not members. “We just want people to come to the club to play a game of golf and hopefully they will be impressed and want to play again or join the club,” said Mr Bywater.

Mr Towers said the elements that made Kirkby Lonsdale Golf Club special were that it was friendly and inclusive, its wonderful location and the quality of the course.

If anyone would like to book a round or join as a member, they should contact the Pro Shop on 015242 76366 or book a tee time on the website here.