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Putting High Legh Park Golf Club on the map

If you can say one thing about Andrew and Anna Vaughan, it would have to be that they love a challenge.

Back in the early 90s the couple, who currently run the well-respected High Legh Park Golf Club in Knutsford, left successful roles in the insurance industry in search of the perfect work-life balance.

This led them to the Lake District where they took over a neglected 1950s holiday park.

Andrew says: ‘It was a real mess. It took 10 years but we created a thriving business where families loved to visit us.’

But while business was soaring, the work-life balance wasn’t quite right.

In 1999 while pregnant with the couple’s now 17-year-old daughter, Anna was diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis prompted the Vaughans to make the move to Spain, where they could manage the business remotely and commute when necessary.

Andrew says: ‘Moving to Spain was another huge lifestyle change but we wanted to get the balance back. The business was at a stage where we could manage it overseas so we went for it.’

This successful arrangement lasted eight years before the couple sold the business.

Never ones to rest on their laurels it wasn’t long before they found their next venture and with it a challenge of epic proportions.

In 2010 Andrew stumbled across High Legh Park Golf Club in Knutsford, Cheshire.

Andrew says: ‘To say it was somewhat run-down is an understatement.’

Built in the late 90s to an extremely high standard, the 27-hole course had fallen into a state of disrepair after the original owner passed away.

But with the Vaughans at the helm, they were confident they could not only turn the business around but create a club like no other.

Andrew says: ‘Golf clubs can be intimidating with lots of rules and regulations. We wanted to create a golf club completely away from that where everyone from the novice to the professional feels comfortable.’

The 18-hole Championship course has been completely restored, while the nine-hole Academy course is a pay to play green open to all ages and abilities.

Andrew says: ‘If you want to entice people to take up golf they need somewhere where they can learn without worrying about the correct clothing or slowing people down. Our nine-hole course is ideal for those who want to learn the game without feeling pressurised.’

The same relaxed rules apply in the clubhouse where all are welcome.

Other facilities include a floodlit driving range and multiple practice greens. It is also home to one of only three private golf schools run by former world number one Lee Westwood.

As well as former world champions, the Vaughans are also working closely with American Golf – one of the biggest retailers of golf equipment in Europe. There is an American Golf shop on site and the firm owns the naming rights to the club’s academy.

Plus the Vaughans and American Golf are currently rolling out a new scheme offering free golf lessons to local schools in a bid to engage youngsters with the sport.

Andrew adds: ‘A golf club needs new members to survive and right now there are very few icons in the golfing world. We want to encourage youngsters to take an active interest in the sport from a young age.’

So as well as restoring a once decrepit course, building a club with a unique ethos, encouraging children to take up the sport and the day-to-day running of the business, are the Vaughans ready to put their feet up?

‘Not yet,’ says Andrew. ‘We already have our next project lined up but we’re not finished with our plans for High Legh Park just yet.’