Harrison Golf and Leisure has applied to North Tyneside Council for planning permission for a new £12.5m golf-based leisure facility at Wallsend Golf Club which includes the reconfiguration of the existing golf course and the development of an innovative new driving range, which will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The ‘BigShots’ Golf concept, which first launched in Texas in 2017, is designed to deliver golf to a younger and more diverse market by combining the extensive outdoor facilities of a traditional driving range with state-of-the-art virtual reality digital technology. The advanced tracking equipment transposes players’ shots onto digital screens which can show a number of virtual reality games or a selection of world-renowned golf courses.
The application is for the construction of a two-storey building, designed by Newcastle-based Nicholson Nairn Architects, with golf bays fronting the driving range at ground and first floor levels, with additional facilities extending to the rear of the bays containing a new bar and restaurant, shop, changing facilities, golf academy, kitchen, function/meeting rooms and associated offices. The western end of the building contains the new Wallsend Golf Club locker rooms to provide natural linkage with the course. The application also includes parking facilities and a new maintenance building for greenkeeping equipment.
Phil Harrison, director of Harrison Golf and Leisure, Newcastle, commented: “It’s a fantastic concept that is proving incredibly popular in the USA, as it’s attractive to not only experienced golfers, who can use it as a traditional driving range to practice, a coaching aid or just the fun of playing different courses in a virtual reality mode, but also to complete novices who can learn to play golf here whilst still having fun playing different games.”
He added: “The present Wallsend Golf Club at Centurion Park is the perfect site for us to launch the new concept and, whilst there will be disruption to the course over the first year of construction, the end result will be a professionally designed 18 hole course with truly superb facility in the BigShots Driving Range.”
Chris Sanderson, Director of STR Enterprises Ltd, who will manage the facility, added: “The BigShots facility will also be a major employer, with around 47 full- and part-time direct posts created in an area of relatively high employment, whilst both the construction and operating phases will seek to source local suppliers wherever possible, securing further employment opportunities. It’s also a massive boom to the existing Wallsend Golf Club, which will be radically reconfigured and improved to provide a first-class golf facility that will rival any course in the region, with a superb clubhouse.”
The Wallsend facility will the first in the UK with the developers intending to launch further sites nationwide in the very near future. Upon a successful application, the developers hope to commence construction later this Autumn with the BigShots Golf facility opening in Autumn 2020.