With ‘links’ to the country’s best golf clubs right here in Yorkshire, Welcome to Yorkshire, in partnership with SGH Sporting Events, are set to drive golf tourism with a brand new membership scheme and website at golf.yorkshire.com, promoting a whole host of international tournaments across the county.

This follows the spectacularly successful COVID-19-safe joint-staging of the inaugural Welcome to Yorkshire Ian Woosnam Senior Invitational last September at the impressive Ilkley Golf Club.

Last week’s launch took place with 32 of Yorkshire’s top business owners and sporting personalities enjoying a round of golf at Headingley Golf Club in Leeds, which will jointly host the English Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championships with neighbours Moortown, from 27th July- 1st August 2021. Headingley is one of 26 impressive courses in Yorkshire designed by world-renowned golf course architect Dr Alister MacKenzie. The Normanton-born surgeon, turned designer, went on to gain fame by creating some of the finest golf courses across the globe, including Augusta National, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne, but he also left an amazing array of riches in his home county.

Coming up, Horsforth Golf Club will host the inaugural MacKenzie Challenge on 9th July and there will also be a second Welcome to Yorkshire Ian Woosnam Senior Invitational at Ilkley Golf Club on 16th and 17th September. A Christmas Am-am at Bradford Golf Club will be held on 2nd December, followed by a lunch and Q&A with Colin Montgomerie OBE, holder of a record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles.

An evening reception and prize-giving at the Dakota Hotel in the city followed play last Wednesday, as well as an entertaining Q&A with Yorkshire’s celebrated pro golfer, Howard Clark. Leeds-born Clark won 11 times on the European Tour and represented Europe six times in the Ryder Cup.

Former England and Leeds United goalkeeper Paul Robinson, with his golfing team of footballer Matt Kilgallon, One Stop Golf’s Mark Rozenbroek, and former European Tour player David Lynn, played at the launch.

A big fan of golf in Yorkshire, former footballer Paul Robinson enthused, “I started playing at Beverley & East Riding Golf Club where my dad is still a member and I always enjoy going back there, but my favourite course has to be my home club of Knaresborough. It’s a hidden gem with the best greens and is always in great condition. When I was playing football, family and golf were my escapes, and golf is now a big part of my social calendar, playing in as many of the Yorkshire pro-am events as I can. I’m also a member at Leeds Golf Centre and what’s great about golf in Yorkshire is the variety of courses we have on our doorstep, from the links on the coast to the parkland and heathland classics. We are very lucky.“

The Welcome to Yorkshire golf launch event marked the announcement of a new range of memberships available to golf clubs and facilities, with options to choose from three membership levels, starting at £15 per month, giving the opportunity to showcase what they have to offer by connecting to the millions who visit yorkshire.com. Welcome to Yorkshire has a global brand reach of over 23m and a social reach of almost 20m. Golfers can sign up for a free individual Welcome to Yorkshire golf membership which includes a quarterly newsletter, free-to-enter competitions and the chance to play in golf events across the county.

Welcome to Yorkshire will be working with their chosen charity partner, Yorkshire Cancer Research, as well as SGH Sporting Events, to stage events throughout the year and attract golfers to play and stay in Yorkshire, offering opportunities to experience the great variety of courses across the county, including Ryder Cup and European Tour venues.

Boosting the visitor economy is of particular importance, particularly following a turbulent time for tourism, as the sector surges ahead to reopen, recover and rebuild. Pre-pandemic tourism was worth a staggering £9bn to the county’s economy and employed almost 225,000. The economic benefits of golf to the region could be vital for the visitor destination market, with golf already being worth £4.2bn to the UK economy.

Director at SGH Sporting Events, Simon Hurd said: “During my professional career, I played golf around the globe at some great courses in wonderful places, but what we have to offer here in Yorkshire is second to none. We have an amazing variety of courses, with something to suit every budget, and I believe we have a real chance to put Yorkshire on the map as a top destination for golf, and give local tourism a real boost.
The Ian Woosnam Senior Invitational at Ilkley last year gave us some challenges because of the COVID-19 situation, but the feedback from the professionals and amateurs was fantastic. Woosie has many happy memories of playing golf in Yorkshire including the Benson and Hedges and other European Tour events staged here in the ‘70s,‘80s and ‘90s, and it was great to bring big time golf back to the county. We are planning more exciting events, so watch this space.”

Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire James Mason said: “Golf is a fantastic way to enjoy the county and to showcase Yorkshire to the world. With 183 golf courses in the most stunning settings, from spectacular countryside to breathtaking coastal links, and with many courses as part of our vibrant cities, it’s the perfect way to take a break and play golf, whilst also taking time to enjoy Yorkshire’s world-class hospitality, fantastic food and drink, amazing arts and culture, plus its impressive history and heritage. A boost for brilliant businesses across the county is what’s needed after a tough time and golf tourism in Yorkshire will certainly be on ‘par’ with other world-renowned golfing destinations.”