Footgolf at Oakmere Park

Does football and golf mix?

Of course they do, they’ve got lots in common. How many footballers play golf? Loads, and visa versa. Are the shoes and boot similar? Yep.  Both have clubs (ok that’s stretching it a bit),  but is there room for both on a golf course? It all depends on how things are organised doesn’t it. We went along at the invitation of Daryl St John Jones, Director of Golf at Oakmere Park to see how they had set things up.

What were we to wear? I opted for tucked in golf shirt and trousers plus a pair of normal trainers. Lefty chose a bizarre pair of tartan socks and crazy shorts. Newby also chose shorts. I got the nod of approval from Daryl – one up to me. We felt quite strange walking into a golf club in this attire. Golfers were looking at us and we wondered what was going through their minds. Things like ‘here come the dregs of society keep your heads down lads”.  We were thinking “just grow up and look to the future”. I’m sure wars have started like this.

How you blend these two mindsets together must be quite a nightmare. We love golf but we also love football and Lefty and Newby play both every week so why can’t they live side by side in one way or another.

Sitting and chatting to Daryl over a very tasty baguette and beer we quickly realised that the success of Footgolf at Oakmere is down to quite a bit of strategic planning and forethought. Do golfers want people going round their course scuffing it up? No. Do golfers want folk in football kits at the club? Not really. Can a golf club afford to ignore a growing trend and with it undoubtedly good revenue? No. Here’s an interesting fact. After every game of football the lads go for a swift half. How many golfers after a game of football go into the clubhouse for a swift half? The numbers are so disproportionate says Daryl. More people playing Footgolf support the clubhouse than your everyday golfer. Round finished, clubs in car and off.


Now with Footgolf people stick around. In fact it’s quite a sociable thing and families are involved.  So now we have a chicken and egg situation. How many fathers take their youngsters along to play golf? How many clubs in the not too distant past shuddered at the thought of junior members out on their beloved courses? Loads. So where do new members come from? Surely this is a natural trend to bring young blood in who would never visit a golf club under normal circumstances. The chance of someone playing Footgolf looking across at the course and thinking ‘I fancy that” are extremely high.

There is an additional beauty in this at Oakmere in that they have a specifically designed , SEPARATE Footgolf course and it is not only developing and being defined week by week, it is bringing in good revenue. Now if you were to tell members that this is helping keep down membership fees and food and drink costs you may be able to appease them. I say may because pleasing members can be like trying to stop a lion biting you! Nigh on impossible.

So… how did our Footgolf go? We had the funniest afternoon sport we had had for ages. Daryl joined us for the first 9 holes and he had obviously played a bit, albeit by his own admission with a bit of scepticism as to its success at Oakmere.


The 1500  yard long Par 70  course features ‘water’ hazzards waiting to catch a poor kick, side-foot or toe-poke. I was gutted that you couldn’t head the ball though! There’s six Par 3’s, four Par 5’s and obviously eight Par 4’s. There are plenty of rules including code of dress to make this sit perfectly into the structure of a golf course. Lefty and Newby still play football and they got into their stride with  obviously at times, a little too much enthusiasm in their kicking.  On the first nine Lefty won with Daryl close behind,  Newby and I were tied so we had to go to the play off hole. Annoyingly Lefty won the next nine again but we all showed a marked improvement in our scores, chipping lots of shots off.

After our match Daryl took us out in the buggies to show us the latest changes to the Admiral and Commanders golf courses. It’s refreshing to hear that Oakmere Park is not only investing in Footgolf but have a £1million investment plan for the two courses over the next four years. That’s some investment  by anyone’s standard. Oakmere have retained the services of world renowned Golf Course Architects Mackenzie & Ebert to do a re-design of both courses, change the layout, and also create a 9 hole par 3 Academy course and a new irrigation system for all 3 courses. Mackenzie & Eberts repertoire include some of the top courses in the world such as Port Rush, Royal Troon, Turnberry etc. These plans have been agreed and the first part of phase one has now been completed with holes 1,3, 5 & 11, given the full Mackenzie & Ebert makeover last winter and two brand new greens built on the Commanders course.

Daryl told us  “As Director of Golf, my job is to ensure minimal disruption to the playability of both courses whilst this work is being carried out and this objective was successfully achieved this winter. It is planned for all 18 holes of the Admirals Course to be completed and new course layout in play by 2018. The new Commanders course layout should be in play by 2017 and the par 3 Academy course open by 2019.” So for the golfer there’s plenty to be pleased about.


But what about the Footgolfers future?  It looks very bright. Footgolf  is currently taking over as the must-do children’s party destination with catering available on site. Every month there is a County order of merit competition which is open to all comers. They are also starting a summer league for teams of 4 -5 players every Tuesday. Oakmeres course is open every weekend afternoon from 3pm and school holidays. To book your kick off time phone Oakmere on 0115 965 3545

From our point of view we had a great afternoon despite a few heads down ‘ignore the plebs’ attitude from a few of the golfers but then again they had that attitude about women golfers and kids learning the game in the past. I suppose it takes time for some to ‘grow up’ and see the future.  It’s all down to who’s got the biggest balls I presume!!

(I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere!)

Following the success and popularity of Junior Coach Jamie Jarvis, Oakmere Park Golf Club have decided to support him by funding a Junior Golf initiative at Oakmere this year and if successful may continue in future years.

7 day membership for under 16’s on the Commanders Course from July to November for only £20 in total, nothing else to pay. Unlimited free golf for 4 months!

Further to this, to help these new juniors get the hang of the game Jamie will also be providing weekly beginners lessons on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and weekdays during school holidays for only £15 for 6 x 1hr lessons. Dates to be confirmed.

Naturally there will be a high demand for these membership places. Places will be offered on a first come first served basis. To apply they can either fill out a membership form at the Club or go online and hit the link below to the membership page on the website and download a membership form from there. You can then email that back to to register.

Daryl St John Jones, the Director of Golf at Oakmere Park has said “This is a really exciting initiative that Oakmere has taken on. By offering this incentive to all kids across the counties, who knows these could be the future Lee Westwoods or Rory Mcilroys. Most kids don’t get the opportunity to play golf and especially join a golf club partly because of the joining fees but also by the golf rules in place. Hopefully this incentive will break down those barriers and make golf affordable and accessible for all juniors across the County. Hopefully once linked in to the subsidized coaching program they will progress to full membership at either Oakmere or any of the Clubs that are most local to them. Hopefully, in the future, all Clubs around the County will start an incentive like this to encourage kids to get into golf.”


Coxmoor Golf Club

At what point during your golfing career do you turn to seniors golf? What do I mean by seniors golf? Well, rather than trying to hit a 300 yard drive at every opportunity, seniors generally play a short iron down the middle of the fairway. In essence, taking more shots to the green but staying out of the rough.

Why do I ask this question? Well at the age of 34 I feel this type of golf should be a few years away, and yet at Coxmoor I was left with no choice! Due to a footballing injury, hitting the big drives was out of the question today, so how would I get on with just my irons?

As those in the County Golfer office will tell you, I don’t like to go on about my injury (Editor insert sarcastic comments here__________________) but today would non the less prove an interesting comparison between the two types of golf.

Our destination was Coxmoor Golf Club, one of the most well respected courses in the county, and after a long chat with Paul, the greens chairman and Glen, vice greens chairman, before the game you can see why. The care, attention and dedication to keeping the course in such great shape is something you can only admire. They’re not just planning for this year or next, but have a 10 year scheme in place to ensure the constant progress of the course. With monthly reports given to each member as to what works are currently being undertaken and the reasons why, this means as a member you get to not only benefit from the improvements but hopefully understand how these are made.

The new head green keeper and all his new toys have been in place now for a year, so it would be interesting to see exactly how things have moved on since our last visit. This would give us an indication not just to the progress so far but how thing would pan out for the future.

As we warmed up on the first tee I decided to get my excuses out of the way early, “I won’t be using my driver today lefty, just irons”, I declared “due my footballing injury”. Lefty, being the thoughtful caring type, paused from laughing and verbally abusing me just long enough for me to play a six iron down the middle of the fairway. It definitely wasn’t long, but at least it wasn’t in the rough and under a tree eh Lefty!

Still with nearly 200 yards to reach the green I learned that when playing seniors golf you can’t be greedy. As I hit a second iron attempting to reach the green I fell short and landed in a bunker. Had I laid up I would have had a pretty easy chip and putt.

The second par three downhill hole, is a great challenge, it’s 169 yards off the yellows and the green is surrounded by bunkers. It’s pretty much hit the green or you’re playing from sand. Both myself and Lefty chose the latter of these two, however two decent bunker shots rescued a pair of bogies.


So we came to the first par 5 of the round, a blind tee shot over a hill is not something you really want to attack with an iron. With little choice, I played a gentle four iron up and over the hill, two more iron shots later and I was on for my first par. Three holes down, I’m yet to find myself in the rough and am playing below my handicap, maybe there is something in this seniors golf lark! But then again it’s early days.

The par 4 4th is an absolutely brilliant hole, it’s a dog leg right that is probably reachable in one for the big hitters. At 300 yards it’s not huge, but boy is it fraught with danger. Naturally with an iron the sensible thing to do would be to play left to the corner and a pitching wedge on, however due to an unexpected slice it looked as if I’m on for the corner which with a 5 iron would have been rather optimistic to say the least. Fortunately landing between two trees, it still left me a reasonable chip and another par.

The seventh hole is a par 3 at just 128yrs and is their stroke index 18, playing over the road you drive in and on. It’s the kind of hole you can play over and over again, and if you overplay the tee shot and land in the rough you might just have to too!

The quality of the fairways and the greens are quite simply exceptional, the fairways are bright green and had stripes mowed in to them, giving the feel and look of a genuine Championship Course, the sort of course we’re used to seeing only on sky sports! The greens, brilliant to look at, took a little mastering. This isn’t in any way a criticism rather the opposite, they rolled so well and so quickly that for the first five or six holes we were over hitting all our putts, but once we’d mastered these, they were a enjoy to play on.

All this talk of the long rough before we played our round had taught us to be very cautious with our shots, because of this may be we weren’t playing the course exactly as it should be played, but staying on the fairways was definitely a new experience for me and one I was certainly enjoying.

The 12th hole is the stroke index one, and deserves a lot of respect. The first thing to note is that the marker in the fairway that you can see from the tee is actually on the edge of a bunker, fortunately my slice left me well clear of this, but at 370 yards up hill it takes some reaching in 2.


The par 5 13th hole has to be one of the best tee shots in the county, as you stand highly elevated above the fairway, all that goes through your mind is simply ‘I’m going to give this everything!’ Nobody has ever stood on this tee and thought “I’m just going to dink this one down the middle’, and nobody has ever hit a tee shot with 80% power. It’s just one of those holes that you have to give everything to. For the first time today the driver came out of the bag, and boom! Lefty landed slightly left of the fairway in the light rough and I landed just short of the fairway bunker but still on the fairway. There is no football injury or amount of pain that would stop me enjoying this tee shot. Two irons later and we were putting for birdies. A truly brilliant hole.

Sadly at this point I had to concede to my playing partner, as my injury got the better of me, and yes I’ll shut up about that now ed!

As lefty played the final few holes I was able to take in the real beauty of this course. With its mature trees, colourful rough and lush fairways it’s a beautiful place to play golf. The added bonus of blue skies and sunshine made the whole experience one to savour. Technically speaking I had played less shots than lefty which as all golfers know is the aim of the game and therefore claimed the victory! Lefty however challenged me “you have to play all 18 holes to register a score” I took this as no more than sour grapes and declared “no one likes the sore loser Lefty now quit your whining and get the beers in!”. These youngsters really need to be told their place by seniors like us! Now, who wants a Werthers Original?