Continuous Improvement at Penrith Golf

“Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes. These efforts can seek incremental improvement over time or breakthrough improvement all at once”


The Issue

Penrith Golf Club was determined to introduce a culture where "continuous improvement" was pivotal to both its work and decisions both on and off the course.  This required the involvement of all sections of the club led by an energetic and experienced general committee with a strong skill base.  Improvement does not happen overnight.  There has to be a starting point.  If carried out in a structured manner benefits will emerge that will lead to sustained improvement.  A principal aspiration was agreed to provide "the best golfing experience possible for both members and visitors".

The Challenges

To achieve our vision some tough early decisions had to be made which were not always popular throughout the club. There was concern that the club was too rigid, insular and there was a need to be more inclusive.

Collapsing green fee income was symtomatic of failings within the club.

Significant work had to be carried out to deal with course deterioration which was a real concern and together with the quality and commitment of Green staff leadership which led to demotivated and undervalued staff. Penrith Golf Club had potential for outstanding practice facilities.

There was also issues with the delivery of the Professional services, lack of golf merchandise and the presentation of the shop.

The constant rise of energy costs with no immediate solution was also a real concern.  

The Solution

A detailed Business Plan was agreed which included the four key areas of Golf Mark- Recruitment and retention, Coaching and Competitions, Management and Sustainability and Safeguarding.   This provided a clear structure for the committee and sub-committees to follow and also identified some key areas where improvement was still required.   The Business Plan is reviewed monthly and updated quarterly.

Stronger links were established with community partners including the County Development Officer for Active Cumbria, Eden District Council, Eden Valley Sports Partnership, Eden MENCAP, Deaf associations, local Media, schools together with other voluntary groups.  There has been closer integration with both England Golf and the Golf Foundation at regional and national level.  Working more closely together with key partners has raised the profile and reputation of the club both in the local community and further afield. 

A coaching plan was introduced so that coaches were equipped with the appropriate skills to move the club forward.   There are now six PGA Level 1 coaches at the club which has considerably strengthened the coaching capacity and training was provided to enable coaches to help disabled performers.

Following the appointment of a new Head Green Keeper a comprehensive skills matrix was produced for the Green staff to develop their work and professional expertise.  A review of the practice facilities led to significant improvement and in addition a nine hole junior course was established. 

There was a drive to improve the overall quality and reputation of the golf course which ultimately led to increased green fees.

Safeguarding and protecting children became a priority with the introduction of a Safeguarding Policy which was communicated across the club and is stringently followed.

A new professional contract was agreed and two new professionals appointed.   They carried out a refurbishment of the professional shop.

The installation of Biomass heating has provided the opportunity to reduce energy costs.                    


The club is now much more inclusive with equality at the heart of decision making.  General committee meeting agendas are aligned to progress key milestones from the Business Plan and this enables decisive and positive intervention when required.

The club has also received some outstanding recognition at both county and national levels. Firstly being awarded Community Club of the Year at the Cumbria Sports Awards. This was then followed by England Golf recognising the club as GolfMark Club of the Year 2016.  Both these awards have brought great pride and esteem to the club.

The club has a very successful junior coaching programme which has resulted in a very high level of exposure to golf.

The Green Keeping team has delivered a quality golf course with a growing reputation and this has led to a significant increase in membership satisfaction and green fee growth.

The Professionals are fully integrated into the club and are delivering an excellent service.

Biomass is delivering cost reduction and will continue to so for the forseeable future.

The celebration of the 125th anniversary of the club was an ideal opportunity to recognise our achievements.

"The club is much more than a golf club"

Next steps

Penrith Golf Club has been able to move forward in a significant way and it will be crucial that this momentum is maintained.  There is a very strong volunteer support throughout the club and the work ethic at the club is high.  Golf Mark will continue to provide the incentive and structure to carry out further improvement work.  "The club will not stand still".

Tips and advice from Penrith Golf Club

It is vital that all sections of the club work together and this brings closer integration at all levels.  Within the membership there is a wealth of skills and experience that the club can utilise.

It is also very imperative to communicate with members on a regular basis, keep them informed about what is happening at the club and for them to feel a part of the success.  Improvements made to the club website have facilitated enhanced communication and aided feedback.

The club has listened more carefully to the views of both members and visitors (internal & external surveys) which have helped to identify issues.

Commitment of the staff is vital to achieving the clubs overall vision.  Recognition and success will provide motivation and confidence.