STOKE by Nayland director Tamara Unwin is hoping to use the worldwide spotlight cast on the club over the next four days to encourage more people from the local area to get involved in the sport.
As well as 160 of the best up-and-coming golfers in Europe going head-to-head on the stunning greens for the 160,000 euro prize money in the English Challenge, free golf clinics - including for disabled people (Friday 12-1pm) and school children (today) - will be held alongside an open day for world number two Lee Westwood’s new south of England golf school.
With schools from the local area bringing children along for golf tasters today and the pristine course open straight afterwards for non-members paying a green fee, Mrs Unwin hopes the tournament can leave a lasting golfing legacy on the area.
She said: “We have free golf clinics going on over all four days and anyone is welcome to come along and try their hand at golf.
“They can be a complete beginner or someone who has been playing picking up new things.
“We have always been known for encouraging young golfers into the game and it is great now to have a worldwide profile player to put his stamp on us as well as we have an excellent gym and two championship courses.”
The Lee Westwood School at Stoke by Nayland will see a new classroom built by the driving range, with accommodation currently going up by the 17th hole of the Gainsborough Course.
The school will be holding informal chats with prospective new students inside the hotel on Friday and Saturday, while the free golf clinics will be led by the club’s head PGA teaching professional Roly Hitchcock down at the driving range with the general public able to turn up for 30-minute sessions on bunkers (10am Saturday), chipping (10am Sunday) and putting (12pm Sunday) as well as a beginners’ session at 12pm on Saturday.
Of Stoke by Nayland holding the English Challenge for the second successive year, which will be screened on Sky TV, Mrs Unwim said: “It is a tremendous opportunity for us to attempt to raise the profile of Stoke by Nayland on an international stage because it is televised worldwide and it is important for the up-and-coming golfers to get to the European Tour.
“It is so exciting this year as Jamie (Moul) has done so well in the last few week and is currently in the top four and stands a very good chance.”
She added there will be a strong backing from the club’s members and officials, but she also hopes people from the local area will make a day of walking round the course and watching world-class golf to support Moul and hopefully cheer him at the prize giving, booked for 4pm on Sunday. Trick shots on the 18th green are planned to precede the showpiece presentation once play has finished (in the event of a play-off the prize giving will be moved back accordingly).
Entry and parking is free and hot and cold refreshments will be also be available all day in the clubhouse and Lakes Restaurant.
Last night saw a Pro Am and Gala Dinner launch the tournament with celebrity guests DJ Spoony and BBC Look East’s Stuart White and Tom Williams also playing.
l The Challenge Tour at Stoke by Nayland will be televised in a one hour highlights programme next Tuesday and Wednesday on Sky Sports TV.