Owners of the country’s biggest indoor golf centre which has opened in Manchester city centre are confident they can buck the economic trend and recover their £800,000 investment within a yea, writes David Birtill.
Craig Woodward, one of three directors of Golftorium in Ducie Street, said, “We’ve done our research and we are expecting at least a £1m turnover. This is the biggest catchment area outside London and apart from the number of business people who play the game there are a lot of courses around here. Manchester University also has the largest golfing union in the country and we are introducing student discounts.”
Golftorium is also targeting the corporate end of the market and, fittingly, the first clients on opening day were 30 employees of HSBC – the company’s bankers.
The centre, no more than a pitching wedge from Piccadilly Station, is spread over two floors and houses six state-of-the-art simulators, teaching facilities, two putting and chipping greens and even a bunker.
“It will probably be my job to vacuum up the sand,” quipped Woodward, 37, whose fellow directors include his father George and Mark Marriott, who will teach alongside fellow PGA professional Joanne Bates.
Marriott. 30, has worked with some of the world’s top coaches such as Butch Harmon, who had Tiger Woods under his tutelage, Peter Cowen and Graham Walker, and was head professional at Morley Hayes in Derbyshire for eight years.
Joanne, 31, a former teaching assistant at Royal Birkdale and Hillside, said, “The indoor academy means you can play, practice and learn golf all year round. I’m planning to introduce more women to the game.”
Woodward is a former chief technical officer of the Media Corporation PLC – formerly Gaming Corporation PLC – and ex-managing director and owner of Dark Side Studios Ltd which was sold to Eyeconomy Ltd, a subsidiary of Media Corporation PLC in 2004.
He added, “We are charging £20 to £45 an hour, depending on the time of day, for use of the simulators which are programmed with more than 50 top championship courses. They are the most accurate in the world, tracking the true ball flight so the player gets the most critical information he’s looking for.”