The 15 year lease at Burstow Golf Club is available by negotiation direct with the present owner/operators, who have been running the business for seven years. Included in the sale is the very first ‘Gym4Golf’.
Burstow Golf Club is a friendly 9-hole course near the Surrey/Sussex border which is also the home of Gym4Golf. Paul Wright and his partner June Conboy acquired the club in 2000 after one of its founders had died suddenly in tragic circumstances.
Paul has a wealth of experience in the golf business and was one of the founder directors of Barrelfield Golf plc. He has been involved with green keeping and course construction for many years so he was particularly keen to use some of his expertise to transform Burstow Golf Club.
“We took over the club in 2000 and it had been closed for several months,” he says. “The fairways were knee height and all of the greens needed completely reseeding to get them back to a playable standard. The course used to be very vulnerable to wet weather, so one of the first things on our list was to improve the drainage of the whole site.
“The clubhouse, which is very compact, needed to be bought up to standard as well. We fully insulated the roof and walls, dropped the ceiling and added a bar, kitchen, shop and office space. The result was that we had a cosy unit that could look after golfers before and after their game and somewhere that they could socialise.
“We are much busier in the summertime, so we also increased and improved the patio area, which is a fabulous suntrap in the warmer months. Club barbeques and other events help our members and guests get to know each other and that builds a loyalty to our course and club.”
Membership has increased steadily over the last six years as local golfers see new improvements all the time. The course now has a full range of modern cutting equipment, which Paul regards as essential to any operator who needs to cut his course efficiently. Two new greens have been built and a new 6th and 8th hole will be in play soon. The changes lift the par to 31 for nine holes with a total length of 1,685 yards. The course is not long, but is a good test of golf for most.
Paul explains, “There are many courses in the area which offer full length golf, but the market does appear to be changing and with so many more retired people looking for inexpensive, easy access and reasonably priced golf, we are confident that our business will continue to grow.”
The only problem with the course was that there is little space for a practice ground and so teaching was difficult. Barrie Valler did a few lessons on the sides of the fairways, but when the course was busy there was little space and the inconvenience and the safety factor was high. Paul decided, with the help of his brother Harry, to build a safe practice area and the ‘Gym4Golf’ was born.
The original Gym4Golf was built to contain six generous bays of approximately 3.5m in width. The range is 25m deep and 8.5m in height. This allows golfers to see the initial flight of their ball, the rate of climb and any early deviation in flight. All clubs can be used, including the latest hot face drivers.
The range is fully enclosed and therefore has no loss of balls or escape issues and the structural poles are fully padded to ensure that there are no rebounds. The flooring is synthetic so there is no requirement for ball washers or harvesters.
The mats are accurately aligned to give more feed back to the practising golfer and the whole range fits neatly into a confined area, just to the right of the car park. It is a superb solution for Burstow. The increased business activity is potentially very exciting for other operators who may also not be able to accommodate a full-length golf range in a convenient location for their golfers.
“As soon as we installed the range our overall business at Burstow took off,” says Paul. “We now have two busy teachers, with Mick Scarles joining Barrie Valler. Mick has built a golf academy, which operates solely from Burstow. The club now has a running stream of new golfers and lessons are given to a vast number of existing local golfers, who now use the course as well.
“Membership has grown rapidly and we have had to introduce a tee booking system for the busy periods. One of the pleasant, surprising consequences of the new range is the increase in golf club sales. Golfers can now try demo drivers or clubs and get a real idea of their suitability before buying. Mick’s golf academy is open every day of the week and he is able to teach groups of all ages and is happy to pass them on to the golf club as new members and green fee payers.”
The range charges £2 for 35 balls and £3 for 70, which creates at least £15,000 income. The increase in course usage, membership, club sales, snacks, drinks and commission on lessons has meant that the return on the investment was extremely good.
In fact the enterprise was so effective that Paul and Harry have now set up Gym4Golf as a separate company to give other golf clubs and leisure facilities the chance to benefit from their expertise and experience. Gym4Golf ranges are available in numerous different sizes and styles. The original prototype has now been greatly improved and has a selection of optional benefits. These include additional bays, lighting, a fully covered range, complete with heaters, synthetic outfield and ball management rooms.
Prices range from £35,000 to £100,000 for a fully covered, carpeted and installed turnkey product which would be a credit to any golf club or leisure facility.
Paul concludes, “The market for Gym4Golf is enormous and potentially there could be hundreds of new places to practice and learn over the next few years. This will be great for the game of golf and we are delighted to help.”
The guide price for the purchase of the 15 year lease at Burstow Golf Club is £200,000, with a good selection of course maintenance machinery available at valuation of around £25,000.
Burstow Golf Club www.burstowgolf.com