FOR many people taking up golf can be a life-changing experience for many reasons including social, recreational, competitive and improving health and fitness.

Sale Golf Club certainly provided most of these for South Korean Soonja Kim who arrived in the country in 2005 to be with her husband.

Not being able to speak the English language and having no friends in her new country she soon became very lonely, sad and longing to return to her native country.

Then when her husband joined Sale Golf Club Soonja decided to take the plunge and try it for herself.

She was quickly bowled over by the warm and friendly welcome she received from Sale’s members and soon became involved in the club community and worked hard often playing or practising six days a week.

When her husband gave up the game, because he could not get down to a single-figure handicap, Soonja went from strength to strength off her 36 handicap winning numerous competitions and eventually getting her handicap down to a very creditable 15 and her son Juwhan, a student at Manchester Grammar School, thrived in the junior section as he also enjoyed great success.

Mother and son rarely played together due to heated differences about each other’s play in the early years but in 2011 they were a great team and posted the top individual pair score in the Mersey Bowl helping Sale to a well celebrated victory.

But with her husband’s business taking him back to South Korea Soonja now had the heart-breaking prospect of leaving Sale where she had made so many friends and achieved a new direction and focus in life.

Sale ladies were delighted to present Soonja with a memorable illustrated diary of her time at the club complied by her fried Janice Weyer, who joined Sale at the same time, and her husband Mike.

Although Soonja is now back in her own country she keeps in touch with her Sale friends and with Juwhan taking up a degree course at Sheffield University she has vowed to return and catch up with them all again in the not-too-distant future.

Janice said: “She would love to have carried on with her golf but joining a club costs in the region of £20,000 and also paying full green fees when you play has proved to be too expensive.

“We can’t wait to see her again and the feeling will be mutual with a very special lady.”

*Birchwood’s Phil Archer showed his European Tour class with a blistering seven-under-par 63 to win the individual pro prize at Leyland.

This gave Phil 43 points to see him clear of Scott Jackson (Disley) 42, Craig Daggett (Bramall Park) and Martin Beatty (Crompton and Royton) both 41.

The presentation and condition of the course was superb with the green staff toiling manfully to effect a great recovery from the recent horrendous weather and Phil, who will be dividing his time between the European Tour and the Challenge Tour in the coming season, took full advantage.

With the help of his regular Warrington partner Anton Johnson they racked up 45 points to complete a double by winning the pro am section.

They finished clear of Crompton and Royton pro Martin Beatty and his young C and R three handicap partner Jack Clift who won a cpo on 44 points from Scott Jackson and Matt Wragg (Disley) and Craig Daggett and Ken Thomson (Bramall Park).

As the C and R pair were from the same club they were able to proudly lift the Glenmuir Trophy for the first time in their club’s history.

Top of the pile in the am am section were Dunscar duo Jeff Bennett and Kevan Marden after a cpo with Altrincham’s Terry Gilbert and James Quinn.

Chris Lee and Brian Lewis (Mellor and Townscliffe) completed the prize list with 42 points for third spot.