This is the one. London’s Premier Golf Lodge
Report by VW Bro Robert Grant PGSwdB, AMetGM
‘Golf gave me a sense of well-being and made me feel at ease in life.’ Seve Ballesteros
This memorable quote from one of the greatest golfers ever to have walked our fair links perfectly epitomises the attraction of golf and its potential for improving physical and mental health. Golf and health are directly linked in a COVID-19 world, and exercising in green space, taking in fresh air boosting well-being with family and friends means that golf is a health-enhancing activity for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.
The Metropolitan Grand Master recently launched a Special Interest Lodge (SIL) initiative to attract and retain members. This presents a unique opportunity to establish a Golf Lodge and maximise the potential for this increasingly popular sport to become a showcase for Freemasonry in London. The high profile of golf attracts new and diverse players every year, with the time now propitious for tapping into this rich vein of interest by promoting the sport within Metropolitan Grand Lodge.
So why form a Golf Lodge? Quite simply, London, the epicentre of English Freemasonry, currently doesn’t have one. The concept is not only highly marketable but maximises interest across a diverse range of social groups channelling it towards Freemasonry with a flagship Golf SIL at the forefront of recruitment and retention.
Building on the success in recent years of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge Golf Society, it was essential to identify a ‘struggling’ Lodge which could be taken over to provide the vehicle for a new golf lodge. The Lodge of St James No 765, a Hall Stone Lodge with a Warrant dated from 1858, was on the brink of closing and its members were highly receptive to the proposal that the Lodge could be saved and the warrant not surrendered. An experienced Steering Committee from the Takeover group was assembled, and a harmonious relationship was established with St James. The existing members were afforded the opportunity to remain and be integral to the future success of a new Golf Lodge.
Robust structure and management processes can ensure viability and attract new members. This includes recruiting Initiates, undertaking working degrees and promoting a vibrant visiting policy. It all relies on an effective communications plan to promote the Lodge of St James No765 as a Golf Lodge and forge provincial alliances. Part of this process is providing a marketing flyer for the English Golf Union and other County Golf Unions.
The initial response within London to the Golf SIL project has been incredible, with 95 registrations for Joining Membership received to date, which is not only encouraging but crucially highlights the popularity of golf within Freemasonry.
In Great Britain, across the whole of 2020, the number of adult golfers on a full-length course increased significantly by over 2 million players to 5.2 million, with 36% identified as returning golfers. It demonstrates that the sport is not only vibrant but provides a perfect solution to the challenges of COVID.
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at the R&A, said:
“It has been a challenging time for everyone, but our research shows how golf has boosted participation in many countries, as well as benefiting mental and physical health. Any increase in demand presents a huge opportunity for the sport to capitalise on, and so we need to maintain interest and understand what is required to ensure these individuals keep playing golf, even if they revert back to previous habits and activities.”
The Lodge of St James has voted to accept the principle of transforming into a special interest Golf Lodge with three meetings a year at Freemasons’ Hall in October (Installation), March and May. There is considerable work to be addressed before the project is completed and formally approved. The target date for the inaugural meeting of the new Lodge is on 10th May 2022. Planning for events into golfing venues is already well advanced for this prestigious, high-profile masonic unit, with an initial foray into classic golf at the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on 8th September 2022. This highly sought-after golfing experience is strictly limited to a table of ten from the Golf Lodge and will include:
VIP Admission with access to the course and Championship Pavilion overlooking the 18th green
Private table with breakfast
Three-course luncheon menu served with selected wines
Hospitality bar serving complimentary beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks
Bar Open 11.00-17.00 hrs
Reserved VIP Parking and programme
Provisional golfing days are being planned at first-class courses, including Prince’s Sandwich Bay, Littlestone, Knole Park Sevenoaks and Royal Blackheath London. There will be other exciting events which will hopefully include guest speakers and competitive matches.
The Lodge welcomes all golfers irrespective of handicap, as long as you have one! Those interested in becoming a Joining Member of the Lodge of St James No 765 and striding the fairway with us, please contact W Bro Glen McDonald PSGD, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, at email@example.com
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 47 January 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 47 here.