A squash court in Whalsay Leisure Centre is doubling as a golf practice range thanks to a partnership between Shetland Recreational Trust and Whalsay Golf Club with support from Awards for All.
Nets have been installed for the club’s golfers to practise indoors during the harsh winter months. The nets fold away neatly above the court allowing it to be used by squash players too.
The facility, which cost £6,400, was officially opened by Shetland Recreational Trust chairman Bryan Leask, who hit the ceremonial first ball which will now be mounted and used as a junior trophy.
He said: “The aims of the Shetland Recreational Trust include ‘providing opportunities to discover new recreational interests by the imaginative use of all resources’ and also ‘giving recreational opportunities to all people’. This project fulfils our vision, to have one area within a facility where squash, spinning and golf can all be performed.
“To see different organisations working in partnership to develop the plans and promote golf development in Whalsay is to be applauded.”
Joint secretary of Whalsay Golf Club, Robert Anderson, said: “The newly opened golf nets at the Whalsay Leisure Centre are set to be a major boost to golf development in Whalsay. During the early months of the year, junior golf coaching is mostly restricted to indoors due to the weather.
“Although indoors is ideal for the absolute beginner, it does have obvious drawbacks for the more advanced juniors, considering the nature of the game. The golf nets will more than cater for this problem and will also allow more to one-to-one coaching for the more advanced juniors seeking minor swing adjustments.
“Adult beginners can use the facility too, either under coaching instruction or just to try out the basics of golf in a closed environment, before taking the plunge of an introductory membership. Finally, established golfers can utilise the facility over the closed season to maintain, or build on, their skills.
“We would like to thank the National Lottery and Shetland Recreational Trust who both funded the project, with the latter also skilfully installing the facility at the Whalsay Leisure Centre. Also, a big thank you must go out to ClubGolf Scotland, who were heavily instrumental in getting the project of the ground and to the Whalsay Leisure Centre staff, for their time and patience in accommodating the design and installation of the golf nets”.
The idea was conceived by ClubGolf regional manager, Willie MacKay, the golf club, and Shetland’s Community Sports Hub official, Carl Clinton. For years, younger children have had indoor sessions in the Whalsay Games Hall using plastic clubs, but the club’s growing junior section of older golfers had their practice at the Skaw course interrupted by poor weather.
Mr MacKay said: “From the start when the golf club were keen to explore the idea, I can honestly say that in over 10 years working in ClubGolf this project was partnership working at its best.
“David Wagstaff, SRT technical services manager, drew up plans, we visited the site and along with the manager, Ian Simpson, looked at how the project could work and not interfere with other activities with storage and safety as a priority. With their and the club members’ expertise, many of whom are fishers and familiar with the mechanics needed for the nets to work, they now have a five-star golf practice area.
“The timing is perfect with winter moving into spring and the golf season about to start, the juniors can start preparing for coaching and competitions. The facility will also be perfect for Whalsay Golf Club’s involvement in Scottish Golf’s ‘Get into Golf’ scheme for adult beginners.”