PGA chief praises course

PGA Chief Executive Sandy Jones and Oak Royal owner Charles Downes
PGA Chief Executive Sandy Jones and Oak Royal owner Charles Downes

ONE of Chorley’s golf courses is setting the benchmark for course design.

That was the verdict of PGA chief executive Sandy Jones, one of the most influential figures in the sport, when he returned to the nine-hole Oak Royal Golf and Country Club facility at Withnell five years after officially opening it.

“Modern architects spoil the game because they always want to build championship courses,” he said.

“This one wasn’t created on that pretence. It’s for people who want to enjoy golf and it represents great value. More of these types of clubs are needed, not just in Lancashire but throughout the whole of the country.

“I’ve always held the view that a golf course should not be a work of art - an oil painting never changes.

“A course does because it lives and breathes every day but it takes tender loving care to make that happen.”

After taking a trip round the course with owner Charles Downes, Jones was clearly impressed.

“The addition of nine extra tees and new bunkers have turned it into a magnificent 18 holes,” he enthused.

“It’s a real test of golf and I can’t believe how quickly it has matured, especially the trees and the quality of the turf, since I was last here.

“The greens staff are obviously passionate about what they do.”

Jones, who brought the Ryder Cup to the club for the 2007 opening ceremony, promised to return with it if Europe retain the biennial trophy when they face the United States at Medinah Country Club, Illinois, at the end of September.

Mr Jones added that the bridges are ‘unique’ and it was his intention that they were named after ‘modern champions’.