Golf Features News Roundup

Ten years on, Close House reflects on a decade of success 

Two-time host venue of the European Tour’s British Masters, and home to two Lee Westwood championship courses, Close House is celebrating the 10th anniversary since the club was first opened in 2011.

Situated in the North East of England, only 15 miles from Newcastle, the venue has enjoyed a rapid rise in stature since its construction and has hosted numerous high-profile events, including last year’s British Masters – the first European Tour event to take place following the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

“We are very proud of everything that we have achieved at Close House over the past decade,” commented Close House owner, Sir Graham Wylie. “The club has become a real focal point for golf in the North East, and we are delighted to have hosted numerous successful charity events, junior competitions and professional tournaments in the last 10 years.

“Being chosen twice to be host venue for a prestigious tournament such as the British Masters is a great privilege and is testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved making the club the huge success that it has become.”

Close House officially opened on May 10, 2011 by then World Number One, Lee Westwood, playing in a fourball with Alan Shearer. Soon afterwards, Westwood was named Official Attached Touring Professional, wearing the Close House logo on his hat which he continues to do.

“Everyone here can be incredibly proud of all they have achieved since 2011. It has been a pleasure to represent Close House as its ambassador over the years and it is amazing to see how it has developed.” said Lee Westwood.

It was not long before the Colt Course achieved UK Top 100 status in various UK publications and websites, while the first landmark tournament was held at the club in 2015 when a PGA Seniors Tour event was won by Peter Fowler.

Two years later, the 2017 British Masters, hosted by Lee Westwood, became the first Tour event to be held in the North East since the 2005 Seve Trophy. An incredible 68,000 fans were on-site throughout the week, with Paul Dunne eventually winning the tournament with a final hole chip-in to beat runner-up Rory McIlroy.

The Junior Masters was also held at the same time, giving youngsters the chance to play on the Filly Course during the tournament week. This initiative, which has been staged since 2017, has also allowed the Close House professionals to deliver coaching to more than 1,000 school children each year. 

As a part of the club’s exceptional achievements, Sir Graham Wylie was knighted in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List for services to business and charity, while the same year saw the Betfred British Masters – hosted by Lee Westwood - return to Close House. 

Alongside the two championship golf courses, Close House is home to a testing par-3 course and the north east’s only PGA Golf Academy. The venue also offers a superb hospitality experience; the No.19 restaurant is a contemporary and state-of-the-art facility which offers the highest service in a relaxed and unrivalled setting. Guests can also stay on-site, with 21 high quality guest rooms and suites. 

For further information on Close House, please visit https://www.closehouse.com. 

Qhotels Unveils New Three-Year Golf Investment Plan

The QHotels Group has underlined its long-term commitment to golf by announcing a new multi-million-pound investment across its golf resorts over the next three years.

The UK’s largest golf resort operator will be rolling out an upgrade to its facilities and courses worth £2m at its seven golf venues in England and Scotland over the next 12 months, with further significant investment to follow in 2022 and 2023.

The three-year improvement programme will cover all sectors of The QHotels Group’s golf-course business, with the renovation work set to start this spring.

At the heart of the investment is a major upgrade of the greenkeeping equipment, with each resort receiving the latest in mowing technology to deliver improved playing surfaces on all of its acclaimed courses.

Bunkers, pathways and drainage systems at each venue will also be overhauled in the next 12 months, while The QHotels Group is further improving the golf experience it offers by adding to the fleet of golf buggies available at every resort.

Away from the fairways, golfers can practise using improved driving range facilities, while all of the resorts’ pro shops are being given a fresh new look and upgraded with new fixtures and fittings.

Richard Moore, group chief executive of The QHotels Group, said: “Golf is a key part of our business and, more than ever before, we are committed to delivering the best experience possible to all our guests and members.

“Following an extended period of lockdowns, more and more people are discovering the many benefits of playing golf and our courses are busier than ever. As the UK’s largest golf resort operator, we have a responsibility to providing outstanding facilities on and off the course, and we believe that the investment that we are making over the next three years will help introduce the game to an even bigger audience.”

www.qhotels.co.uk/golf  www.almarosehotels.com

Clubhouse Renovation Marks Latest Phase of Multi-Million Investment at The Springs

The transformation of The Springs Resort & Golf Club into Oxfordshire’s leading golf venue has moved a step closer with the reopening of its stunning golf clubhouse following a major renovation and extension.

To help celebrate the full reopening of the hospitality industry in England, the clubhouse’s fresh new look will be unveiled to members and visitors on May 17, with the interior of the building and facilities all having been updated and given a modern makeover.

The refurbishment work, which also includes the addition of new state-of-the-art swing and putting studios, spearheads a substantial long-term investment at The Springs by its operator Darwin Escapes. When completed in September, the resort’s extensive facilities will feature an already upgraded 18-hole golf course, a new luxury hotel, hydro-therapy pool and spa and collection of luxury lodges and suites.

Work transforming the clubhouse began last autumn, with the upper floor, bar and restaurant being completely reconfigured and refitted and a new kitchen added.

A new spike bar, restaurant, balcony extension, outdoor dining area and patio have been created to offer members, guests and local residents an enhanced dining experience, while golfers can improve their technique using the latest Foresight GC Quad and Putt Lab technology following the installation of two new swing studios and a putting studio.

Other improvements include the redesign of the club’s golf shop and the addition of new car parking areas.  Further exciting developments are set to follow at The Springs in the coming months, with 19 two-bedroom lodges, 28 lodge-style bedroom suites, eight hotel bedrooms and a luxury spa all set for completion by early autumn.

Ashley Pheasant, Head of Golf for Darwin Escapes, said: “It’s our aim to make The Springs one of the best golf resorts in the south of England, and opening the new clubhouse is the next step.

“The new facilities that have been added will truly make the club a venue for everyone to enjoy in the local and surrounding areas and is just one of a number of exciting new developments that we’re looking forward to unveiling in 2021.”

The development plan at The Springs is the latest multi-million investment to be made at Darwin Escapes’ three golfing venues, with a further £25m being spent renovating and improving the golf, accommodation and leisure facilities at Dundonald Links in Scotland.

As well as completing significant work to improve the playing experience of the Kyle Phillips-designed golf course, the investment program also includes the addition of a collection of new luxury self-catering lodges, luxury rooms and a new two-storey clubhouse featuring a wrap-around balcony, sauna, steam room, gym and bar and restaurant facilities including a private whisky room.

Darwin Escapes currently operates three golf courses and 21 holiday resorts across the UK offering golf membership, golf breaks, holiday breaks and holiday home ownership.

Darwin Escapes’ three golf courses; Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, The Springs in Oxfordshire and Kilnwick Percy in East Yorkshire, vary in terms of character but share the same goal of providing a challenge for even the most skilled of golfers.  Golf breaks are currently available at Kilnwick Percy.

https://darwinescapes.co.uk/springs-spa-hotel-golf-club/

Greg Norman signs the renovation of Real Club de Golf El Prat Yellow Course under a new Sustainability Plan.

Real Club de Golf El Prat designed a new Sustainability Plan including, among other things, the renovation of the acclaimed Yellow Course. The prestigious club took advantage of the pandemic to work on one of its two championship courses to make it more sustainable as well as improve its playability. 

The maintenance staff was able to complete the work ahead of schedule without bothering too much our players and the course is now ready for the golf season.

The objective of this Sustainable Plan is to reduce the economic and environmental impact by eliminating some bunkers, modifying others and remodelling fringe areas. Other advantages of this project are the reduction of water consumption, energy and fuel for machineries, and nutrients or phytosanitary products to apply to the course. All of these procedures produce a more “eco-friendly” golf course.

The golf legend Greg Norman was in charge of designing the two golf courses that form Real Club de Golf El Prat, the Pink and the Yellow. It was in 2004 that, after a match between him and Sergio García, the Catalan Club was open to the public. 

Norman, who led the renovation, said: “I want to thank very much the club for entrusting us redoing the 45 holes a few years ago, we had a fantastic journey on that trip relocating the golf courses, but the most important thing that we have come away from all this, is  the sustainability and the playability of all 45 holes. I am proud of the fact that we delivered that to such a great club.“

Besides improving the sustainability, they wanted to maintain the original design as much as possible. That is why the removed bunkers were turned into rough areas maintaining the original shape. 

Around the greens and their sides, the rough areas have been increased to reduce run off. But new maintenance standards are established for greens, fairways and rough, so that they are always in the best shape as possible. For the entire 2021 for example, greens will be aerated using a new machine that, in spite of having very low impact on green’s playability and not preventing the game, ensures surface quality and speed. 

Overall, 56 bunkers have been removed and 31 modified and the players’ feedback has been very positive. 

This plan does not only deliver a more eco-friendly course with an improved playability, but also offering members and visitors of Real Club de Golf El Prat a more varied golf Club. Especially those playing multiple rounds will benefit from the variety of layouts with a demanding Pink course or the easier Yellow, making sure they make the most of their experience.

Link to their page: https://www.realclubdegolfelprat.com/en 

New Ba (Hons) Degree In Golf Club Management

A partnership between The Cornwall College Group, the Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) and Colt MacKenzie McNair (CMM) has announced the launch of a new BA Honours degree in Golf Club Management, with the first students to start from September 2021. The new degree is the first of its kind in the UK to focus purely on golf club management, without any playing element or golfing ability requirement for the student.

Studied over 3 years full-time, or 6 years part-time, the new degree has been created in consultation with highly experienced golf industry managers, alongside the education department of the GCMA. Topics covered include marketing, finance, developing and managing people, strategic management and golf course design, construction and maintenance. In addition to being based at Lindfield Golf Club in West Sussex, students will also benefit from site visits to a wide variety of golf club businesses as well as hearing from industry-leading guest lecturers.

Throughout the course, students will be supported with career advice and pathways. They will also have one-to-one sessions with a CMM Consultant, offering personal career advice, coaching and guidance as well as supporting them in securing a work placement for the summer semester. The overriding aim is to ensure that graduates are “work-ready” on completion of the course, and well-able to occupy management positions within the industry.

Talking of the new degree, Tom Brooke, CEO at the GCMA, comments: “We’re delighted to add the Golf Club Management degree to our educational offering from the Golf Club Managers’ Association. It represents the first level 6 degree focused on golf club management and therefore is the highest academic qualification within our industry. We’re looking forward to welcoming students in September and working with them to both educate and support their future careers.”

Alex Lindsay, Head of College (Golf) at Cornwall, continues: “As the industry has commercialised over the last 30 or so years, there has been a growing need for Golf Club Managers with high levels of business knowledge rather than playing experience. “The Golf Club Management degree is unique in its focus on this subject, applied directly to golf club facilities. Students will have a rich and extremely rewarding experience, learning from industry professionals and visiting a broad range of different golf facilities.”

For more information, visit www.golfclubmanagement.degree.

 

Ensure Members’ Safety with Scanatize Entry System

When clubhouses reopen, golf managers will be faced with unprecedented expectations from members and visitors alike to provide a safe environment – and, with the launch of the Scanatize thermal entry system, clubs can achieve that and a lot more besides.

The innovative, contactless, thermal entry system comes in a slimline panel tablet and is compatible with most existing gateway systems – utilising data cards or key fobs – to ensure those entering the building are not running a temperature. Crucially, its GDPR-compliant data capture and reporting facility can be downloaded and used as part of a track-and-trace operation should the need arise.

It has options for 3D facial recognition and two-way audio, as well as a QR code reader, and is also able to detect accurately whether a compulsory facemask or hard-hat is being worn, with an audible alarm if an individual fails to comply with required safety protocols.

It can be utilised as a simple standalone device or as part of a network if there are several entry points. And, commercially, it generates revenue with the capability of over-branding and a rotating advertising mode when in standby.

But while the suggestion of revenue generation might prick up the ears of the bean counters, it is the effect on client and staff morale that is key, according to Scanafy director Colin Cook.

He said: “Not only does Scanatize prevent access to those with a high temperature, but it can clearly be seen performing its role, which is a confidence boost to anybody entering the premises, be they member, visitor or employee. 

“And that knowledge and peace of mind will be essential as we adapt to changing behaviours and habits and look to build and maintain people’s trust within the hospitality sector and beyond.”

The high-tech thermal camera uses an accurate, market-leading digital module for rapid core-body temperature detection – to +/- 0.3ºc – up to a distance of 1.5 metres, ensuring that, unlike when using hand-held temperature testers, no user is at risk of infection.

The system is already installed at Brighton & Hove Albion FC, while several central London hotel groups have approved trials. Glyndebourne has also shown keen interest ahead of the 2021 festival and London-based Scanafy will continue to introduce the system into several other industry sectors as lockdown begins to ease.

Cook added: “This system is designed for the physical safety and mental wellbeing of society, not one industry sector. It should be utilised wherever there is substantial footfall: not just golf, sporting and hospitality venues, but medical facilities, care homes, hotels and the premises of any large employers.

“Ultimately, such capital expenditure will be seen as a small price to pay to return to normality and the use of the technology will become just one small, inconsequential change among many in our future lives.”

Scanafy delivers a technically advanced product range, specifically developed to help combat security and safety issues the world will continue to face because of COVID-19. It helps ensure workplaces are as safe as possible for staff and customers, increasing consumer confidence and assisting businesses through their recovery process, by providing contactless thermal scanning, mask detection, and 3D facial recognition including card, fob or QR-code entry systems.

For further information on the ground-breaking Scanatize thermal entry system, from Scanafy, visit bit.ly/Scanafy, contact Colin Cook on +44 (0) 20 8906 9966 or email cc@scanafy.com