Tony Clark, CEO of PlaneSWING, was impressed when he saw what some vision, teamwork and commitment could achieve at Kingsdown Golf Club in Wiltshire
When Andrew Butler, the Head Professional and Foremost member at Kingsdown Golf Club in Corsham, called us and ordered a PlaneSWING – “to complete the new driving range” – I had little idea of the scale of the project that had just come to fruition. But when I visited Kingsdown GC and met Andrew it was evident that this was the result of a great team effort by the club’s committee, it members, course staff and professionals.
Clark: Andrew, what influence did you have in bringing this project to fruition?
Butler: This was a project many years in the making, but in a nutshell it was successful because we all shared the same vision, with a real desire to make it happen. Of course we encountered obstacles along the way but we addressed each collectively. My involvement was focused predominantly on the golf side of things as you’d expect, and this required considerable research into the design of the range and the essential equipment needed to deliver a state-of-the-art facility, not only for our members, but for a facility that could attract existing and would-be golfers in the immediate area. This project was very much a commercial project aimed at growing our membership, and with the range itself delivering a return on investment in its own right.
Clark: So how successful has it been and what value has it added?
Butler: There have been a whole host of benefits, some of which we hadn’t even considered. Firstly the members now have an undercover and open-air practice facility and this brings more people to the club on a more regular basis. We’ve attracted more corporate days as we now have a better offering and we’ve increased our membership directly as a result of having the range. Around 30% of ball use at the range is by non-members! We’ve also introduced ‘flexible membership’ packages and these make an ideal feeder programme towards full memberships.
We’ve focused on the future by growing our Junior Coaching Programmes, run primarily by Sam Attwood, one of my assistants, inviting local children and parents to experience Kingsdown Golf Club and our driving range, and ensuring they encounter a friendly and safe learning environment.
We are well on the way to recouping our investment, which was over £100,000.
For the PGA professional team, it’s given me, my senior assistant Michael Reeves and Sam continuity of earnings. We are now a 52 week coaching and retail operation because our lessons are no longer weather dependent. We also have a secure, undercover studio at the end of the range, which for us is fantastic, as we view ball flight as crucial in lessons and in particular for our club fitting service.
But of course this has brought with it added responsibility on the Pro Team to deliver on the promise that people expect of an investment of this size, which Michael, Sam and I relish.
Clark: So the success of this project was really as a result of your relationship with the club committee, course staff and membership?
Butler: Without a doubt, and I don’t believe it would have happened had we not had such an outstanding chairman and treasurer, who both led the project and were always on hand to give advice and support, whilst also trusting my judgement.
I believe we now have one of the best all-round golf facilities in the region and that’s something everyone at Kingsdown Golf Club can be proud of.
What came across loud and clear to me was the value that Andrew and his team add to Kingsdown Golf Club. It their relationships with the club officers and its membership can be replicated across the UK it would have a real and positive impact on the future of the PGA professional.
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