Etchinghill is a beautifully presented golf facility, which has something for all members of the community. There are three excellent courses: the Leas course, a 6100 yard course climbing majestically to give beautiful views for miles around. The Valley course is a pretty, slightly less demanding nine-hole layout with many different teeing options for maximum variety. There is also the par-3 Academy course, ideal for those new to the game and especially for the buoyant junior section.
The centre also has a golf range and well-developed short game facilities, a lovely large putting green and even its own croquet lawn. So there are plenty of opportunities to play golf at all sorts of different levels. Inside the clubhouse the reception and professional shop provide access directly onto the golf range.
The clubhouse also has a major food and drink operation as well as all of the changing facilities that one would expect from such a complex. Cleverly, the clubhouse facilities can also be accessed from a separate entrance. This allows wedding parties and special functions to arrive on site without mingling with golfers and all of their paraphernalia. Few brides, even keen golfers, want to tangle with trolleys and golf equipment on their big day. At Etchinghill, the wedding entrance leads guests through a beautifully prepared patio area and straight into the function suite.
All of the courses and practice areas are in tip-top condition with fast smooth greens and neatly trimmed fairways, approaches and tees. The views from the main course are simply staggering and it is a real pleasure to play at such a scenic and beautifully presented golf facility. It is not surprising that the golf club is so busy.
Pentland Golf have an excellent structure for membership of the facility. You can join as a bronze, silver or diamond member and the prices range from £39 per annum to just over £1000 for full access to all of the facilities. This is an excellent way of capturing data and giving people the reason to return to the golf facility even if they don’t play very often. They can proudly tell their friends that they are a ‘member’ - even if they only spend £39 each year for the privilege. Bronze membership allows for a small discount on green fees, regular newsletters and also the ability to receive similar benefits at the other managed facilities. Silver members get a larger discount and this may well be more suitable for those playing slightly more frequently. All of the Diamond members have access to the course with no further fees to pay, either for five or seven days and if they visit another Pentland club then they pay just a £10 green free.
The bronze and silver membership schemes have been in place for over 15 years and have over 1000 members at each site despite targeting only one third from member golf and two thirds golf income from none member golf.
The various different types of membership and the fact that the course is very busy obviously require some serious management, both in terms of the staff and training, and also with the management system that is used. ESP has been the first choice for Pentland for many years and it’s online booking system works flawlessly at Etchinghill.
Pentland Golf is run with great aplomb by Johnathan Callister PGA. As Chief Executive of the group, he oversees Boughton Golf Club and Etchinghill, as well as several other sites which are managed by Pentland. Jonathan spoke to Golf Features:
“We have a really good team looking after our customers here at Etchinghill. The golf facility is well-developed and the greenkeepers do a superb job of presenting it in the finest order. We are not frightened to invest in people, equipment and management systems that allow us to serve our customers better.
“Whilst we are happy to provide pay and play access to our facilities, we have found that by offering the low-cost membership system, golfers can join our club for a very small outlay and feel very comfortable being part of our wider membership. This greatly helps to retain their trade, with many moving up the membership categories as they become better golfers or have more time on their hands. We have a great teaching team and we are proud of the number of new golfers that we generate at the course.”
Food and drink is a huge part of the business for any major golf club these days. Etchinghill is no different. Delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners are available at good prices and served in the welcoming open-plan clubhouse by competent and friendly staff. As those running golf courses will know, the food production side of the business is sometimes a complex and thankless task, with so much necessary regulation to ensure safety and quality for diners. However, it is almost impossible to eat a meal without having a drink of some type and it is the bar where the ‘economic progress’ is made at such facilities. The bar at Etchinghill is packed with happy golfers socialising and reviewing their round.
FootGolf is run on the academy course at specific dates. This means that golfers needn’t mix with those wishing to play FootGolf, unless there is an event scheduled. This seems to work very well, as it allows the new sport of FootGolf to be enjoyed without compromising the core sport of golf.
There is much to be like for the golfer at Etchinghill and much to learn for the golf operator, at this is a highly polished golf operation. Customer service is second to none and that reflects very well on the owners and the management team of Pentland Golf.
For more details, please visit: www.pentlandgolf/etchinghill