Maidenhead Golf Centre has a prime location just minutes from the centre of town. As ‘Braywick Golf Park’ the range has been operational since the early sixties. Mike Upcott has been the PGA professional at the site for twenty years, based in a ‘temporary’ building with a kettle and an electric fire, coaching in all weathers but only in the hours of daylight.
At midday on Friday, 12th November the dreams of Mike and his wife, Rowena, finally came true when local MP, Theresa May, officially declared open the covered 14 bay golf range, with 6 open air bays and well-appointed, warm clubhouse. The assembled guests were then entertained by Jeremy Dale and his outstanding ‘trick-shot’ display.
“It is such a joy to be able to offer this level of luxury to our customers,” said Mike. “It has been quite difficult to get to this point, planning was difficult to obtain but over the last few months this wonderful new range and clubhouse have emerged. The excitement amongst our members and regular users has been growing and now we can thoroughly enjoy the new buildings.”
Planning constraints limited the range to 14 covered bays but there are further bays on the magnificent wet-pour rubber patio installed by On course and grass tees as well in the summer months. The car park is excellent and serves the whole Braywick Park complex which includes Maidenhead Rugby Club, a garden centre and Stafferton Lodge pub and restaurant, with easy access to the main road and minutes from the M4.
Floodlighting is very contentious as the best of times and was a particularly sensitive issue at Maidenhead where the range is located is a residential area. Abacus Lighting developed a lighting scheme that complied with the planning permission and actually uses less power than the original plan. Small blue LCD up-lighters have been installed around the patio and behind each bay which enhance the ambience of the site at night.
Challows supplied the range structure with generous bays of 3.5m in width and 6 m in depth. The roof of the range has been designed to ensure that any skied balls are expelled into the range rather than rebounding into the bays. The bays themselves are carpeted with contrasting colours to mark a clear break between the walkway and the hitting areas.
Specialist Sports Fencing supplied the perimeter netting which blends sensitively into the environs of the park. The company also did much of the groundworks for the building and range outfield. Martin Ball explained, “We have started to take on additional work for our clients, who often want more than just netting. The finished product at Maidenhead looks great and will improve further when the target greens mature.
Mike and Rowena Upcott are now running the centre full time. The lease does not permit them to have a large retail shop but Srixon and Sky products are available to cover the essential needs of all the golfers.
European Golf Machinery have supplied the ball dispenser and much of the range equipment. The new ‘single-drop’ dispenser gives maximum flexibility in the number of balls given to each customer.
“We have deliberately priced the balls at £3.50 for and £5 for 75,” says Rowena, “which is a very fair price for the area, particularly given the quality of the surrounds. We are encouraging as many people as possible to join as members. Members receive 10% more balls for 50 pence less and can charge up their cards with additional credit: £40 buys them £50 of credit. There is a ‘Happy Hour’ for members only, during the week before 1 pm, during which an additional 20% balls are given free of charge.
“So far we have sold a large number of memberships, with most members charging their card with an additional £40 to get the best price. Membership costs £30 annually and includes £10 of ball credit.”
“Mike and Rowena are fabulous hosts,” says Nick Newton, a director of the new set up. “We know that all of our customers will be thoroughly looked after and the response has already been fantastic. We used GRN Consulting for may of the ideas and finer design points and the finished product is outstanding.