A Dundee-based company called Keiller Estates has acquired “The Gateway” in St Andrews, the 46,000 sq ft building overlooking the 17th hole of the Old Course. The property had been standing empty for the two years since it was completed. It cost the original owners £9 million to build it. It cost the new ones somewhat less to buy it.
The building will be used by the newly-formed St Andrews Golf Holdings Limited and will become the home of a European centre for the golf industry, serving as a conference venue for golf-related events and a permanent source of knowledge for the varied aspects of golf.
“I have been carrying out research and negotiations for over seven years centred on the fact that St Andrews lacks a welcoming hub for golfers and this opportunity presented itself in the St Andrews Gateway Building,” said Richard Wax, chairman of St Andrews Golf Holdings.
For 16 years, Wax was director of European operations for Robert Trent Jones II. He was involved in the development of projects such as The Wisley Golf Club in Surrey and Penha Longa in Portugal and played a role in Kyle Phillips’ design of Kingsbarns near St Andrews.
“It occurred to me that the ideal venue for a pooling of golfing knowledge was St Andrews,” Wax continued. “The golf industry is truly worldwide; some 50 million golfers play at over 30,000 golf clubs. The stars of the game are recognised around the globe. Yet there is at present no hub for the transmission of information, the marketing of the game or the introduction of new players into it. St Andrews is the natural venue for such an entity because of its tradition as the’Home of Golf’. Yet when a visitor enters the town, there is no information centre to give advice on hotel accommodation, where to play golf, or about activities for non-golfers.”
“We have excellent relationships with the golfing and tourist bodies in Fife and our objective is to generate quality golf-related tourism and conferences over an extended season. The 40 courses of the Fife region are our focus as well as the entire range of hotel and guesthouse accommodation in the area,” he said.
The concept of Ian Hallifax, a colleague of Richard Wax, was to create a communications facility for all golfers. He focused on a virtual golf club, underpinned by a one-number contact centre. The two men have now combined their business plans to create St Andrews Golf Holdings, which will aim to generate new revenues for golf clubs and other relevant associations.
Their combined objective is to enrich the visitor’s experience of St Andrews. “We will initiate golf-related events in the evenings for visitors to the ‘Home of Golf’, such as presentations by leading golf course designers, players, personalities and caddies,” said Richard Wax. “Golfers coming to the area will be welcomed and whether they wish to play inland or links courses, championship or more friendly layouts, their particular requests will be handled professionally.”
The Gateway will include:
- A library with golf books from around the world and videos of great moments of the past
- A golf workshop overlooking the links with the capability of analysing golf swings and equipment
- A communications hub and call centre accessible from portals around the world, not only for visitors to the building in St Andrews
- An orientation centre, with business facilities and conference rooms
- A top-floor, golf-themed restaurant, sports bar, golf simulators and viewing balcony overlooking the 17th hole of the Old Course
Golf-related companies and other businesses working in Scotland will be able to use the building for full address, telephone and mailing services The technology partners for the project are Alcatel, the giant French communications company.
St Andrews University has transferred its 99-year-lease on the premises. “We look forward to working with the new owners and their tenants in the years to come,” said David Corner, the university’s secretary and registrar.
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