An ambitious project to boost golf in the Preston area is almost ready to tee off.
A new driving range at Ashton and Lea Golf Club will be officially opened later this month in an attempt to halt the talent drain from clubs in the Preston area.
Since the closure of the range at Fulwood Amateurs last year, the only centre offering undercover practice facilities in the city has been Preston Golf Club.
In its planning application to the city council in November Ashton and Lea argued there was an “urgent need” for a second range to encourage golfers to stay in the sport.
It said that as a result golfers would inevitably move to other clubs outside the area, or leaving the sport altogether.
And, with the nearest driving ranges outside Preston being located at Whitestake, Samlesbury, Longridge and Warton, they would "require parental transportation, which in effect minimises access for young people.”
The new range at Ashton and Lea was given planning permission in November and is now almost complete.
Preston North End star Paul Gallagher has accepted an invitation to officially open it on April 20, the day after the team face Ipswich in a Friday night fixture.
A spokesman for the club said: “The driving range will be an asset to the golf club as we look to attract and retain existing members. We believe it will help to transition novice golfers into full playing members.
“We are looking to encourage junior participation through summer camps and school activities in the local area.”
The club is also looking to benefit from the massive housebuilding programme underway in the north of Preston.
Statistics show golf take-up from 6,000 new homes locally could mean 540 new club members.
In addition to the covered bays and a teaching studio, improvements to the practice ground include a bunker area, three chipping stations and a chipping green.