The golf range at Bromsgrove opened in March 1989. Ted Morris had a vision to convert his farm into a golf and leisure destination way before it became popular to do so. Originally the golf range and clubhouse building had 42 bays and to start with they were rammed out with eager golfers who weren't able to get a fix of golf anywhere else in the area. This was indeed the golden age for golf ranges.
The golf centre developed hugely and the first nine holes was opened in 1993. A second nine and the full clubhouse open three years later.
The course has been beautifully designed by Stephen Macfarlan, then working under Martin Hawtree, whose sympathetic use of traditional golfing principles allows for one of the most charming golf courses in the Midlands. With a par of 69 and various tees from which you can play, the course suits all styles of player. It is obviously not trying to be the longest and most difficult course in the country, but as the trees mature it is a lovely place to enjoy your sport. The course is built on sand so it is only in exceptionally bad weather that any part of it is closed.
Today the business is run by Ted’s sons, Phil and Adam Morris. Golf Features caught up with Adam recently:
"We are very proud of how the business has grown over the years and we are delighted that so many people find the golf centre such a pleasant place to use for their social lives. We are always trying to look to the future to see what of the best things to offer our customers and we have recently opened a new FootGolf course, which we hope will broaden the appeal and encourage more young people to be part of the Bromsgrove experience."
The golf range has changed hugely since it's inception 27 years ago. When it opened, golf clubs was slightly shorter in length and there was a real need to maximise the number of golf bays. In recent years, there are more leisure opportunities and people don't use ranges in the same way as they did in 1989. The golf range, which sits on six different levels originally housed 42 bays. The tiers are stepped slightly into the landscape and used to allow for five bays on each of these tiers.
When the range was comprehensively refurbished it was decided to make the bays much bigger, so today each of the plinths which used to house five bays, now provides generous accommodation for just four. The bays are also beautifully presented in warm carpet and excellent decor by the Bromsgrove team. There are 19 Power Tees, with one dedicated left-handed bay and also another bay which can be used for both right and left handed golfers. The bays are kept in beautiful condition and the carpet regularly hoovered. When the bays were widened, they were also extended so almost two meters was added to the overall depth of the structure and the changes also included cladding the range ceiling to prevent any condensation, which can be so irritating to the practicing golfer at certain times of the year. They have cleverly managed the whole process so that today's golf range looks modern and has a luxurious feel and still does some very good numbers.
On the lower section of the range, there is a magnificent teaching studio which is complemented with a separate club fitting room which is operated by Bromsgrove's long-term retail partner, Midlands Golf. Both the teaching and the custom fitting bay use Foresight Golf’s excellent technology.
Rob Laing took over as the head PGA professional at Bromsgrove just last year. He spoke to Golf Features:
"I love the whole ethos of the golf centre. The Morris family have done a wonderful job in making sure that everybody feels comfortable just being around the golf centre. This means the new golfers integrate beautifully with existing clients and everybody feels welcome. It's one of the best atmospheres I've ever experienced in my career as a golf pro. We are always looking to introduce more people to the game of golf and the coaching programmes take people from complete beginner all the way through to the highest levels. We use a combination of quality technology, from Foresight Golf, and also traditional techniques of engaging with customers and explaining and demonstrating how they should improve their technique."
The golf centre has been very well designed, so as you walk into the reception lobby, toilets and changing rooms are clearly signposted to your right, reception is bright and welcoming and access to the range and bar are all within a few yards. The first and 10th tee are controlled by a starters hut during the busier months, which also has toilets, soft drinks and confectionary. Golfers are encouraged to keep up with the pace of play and, delightfully, informed that they must give way to greenkeepers working on the course. If only all golf clubs could just put up that sign!
The retail shop operates within the golf centre with a large very well-stocked shop, the comprehensive fitting suite with access directly onto the golf range and also and electric trolley service station, which is conveniently located at the top end of the car park, close to where buggies are stored in overnight.
The Morris family work very closely with both the PGA and England Golf to ensure that golf is delivered to the highest standard at the centre. The PGA hold regular courses at the centre and use the conference facilities on the first floor of the beautifully appointed clubhouse. There is also a smaller conference room, which is used for board meetings and other gatherings. Downstairs there is a large restaurant and dining area together with an open bar, which allows function’s to exist at the same time as general golf trade continues. It's not surprisingly that Bromsgrove is a very popular location for all sorts of special events - from wakes to weddings and birthday celebrations.
The centre is beautifully run and is well worth a visit. Further details can be found online at: www.bromsgrovegolfcentre.com