Chadwell Springs Family Golf Centre

Chadwell Springs Family Golf Centre is a superb new golf centre designed to encourage new golfers and service a market of golf and leisure, rather than just looking after a smaller and exclusive group of ‘proper players’. Both the pitch and putt course and the par three course, which is scheduled to open next Spring will be great courses for all players, but are focused on shorter shots. This will encourage more people to play, as one barrier to starting is the difficulty some have in hitting the ball a long way. But on the range, the determined golf addict can find no better environment to hone their game. The cost of using this excellent new facility is reasonable too and well within the budget of anyone wishing to enjoy a golf themed session at Chadwell.

The range is exceptional and beautifully appointed. Great care has been made to light the range sympathetically: inside the bays there are two sources of light, with a small coloured diffused downlight softening the impact of the brighter overhead lighting. Both are LED.

The bay dividers have been custom-built by European Golf Machinery and fit perfectly into the range. EGM has also supplied the golf mats, ball trays and their excellent ball management system, including software and dispenser, complete with two dispensing outlets for busy times, offering every possible payment options one could imagine. 

Tony Nelli of European Golf Machinery spoke to Golf Features:

“We are obviously delighted to have been chosen to supply this exceptional facility. We are particularly pleased that our installation of the Nayax payment system is proving so popular. Customers can make payments for single or multiple range vends using credit or debit cards, phones and Paypal. This style of range payment is strongly in demand as customers want various different options to pay for their leisure.”

Challows created the delightfully curved range and both the ball machine room and the teaching studio. The range dimensions are generous in size and great care has been taken to eliminate any possibility of a dangerous rebound or ricochet. The netting was installed by Hi-Nets. Andy Weeks, founder of Hi-Nets, commented:

"We have seen an awful lot of golf ranges in our work across the country and we are all very impressed with the centre at Chadwell Springs. The whole team were a delight to work with, and we wish the centre every success in the coming years."

Srixon one-piece balls have been selected for the range for their exceptional spin and feel characteristics. The lighting system was designed by Abacus, using the berm lighting principles with lights buried in the range surface behind mounds of earth.

The collection of range balls and the cutting of the outfield is the responsibility of AMS. This robotic system of collecting balls and constantly cutting the range outfield has become a standard for most good quality ranges. There is so much less ground pressure exerted by the robots that the erosion of the range surface, particularly around the targets and higher wear areas, is kept to a minimum. Consequently the range service is in better condition all through the year, with far less mud and unsightly traffic marks. 

The balls are collected by the robot and dropped into the pickup zone 30 metres away from the bays, where they are rinsed and blown across to the ball washer before being re-loaded into the ball dispenser. The robotic mower just keeps on cutting and mulching up the grass into fine particles. As required, both the picker and the mower recharge themselves before continuing on with their duties. The real joy of this is simple: ball collection is a horrid task and is now taken off the agenda for the greenkeeping team, except in exceptional weather circumstances. 

Phil Sear, from AMS, commented:

"Chadwell Springs is an exceptional golf range and we are thrilled to have been chosen to install our robotic ball collection and cutting system. We wish them every success for the future."

There is also a very large putting green, which has a couple of bunkers and the opportunity for those to work on their short game. 

McMullens really know their stuff when it comes to pubs. They own a major brewery, a chain of managed pubs and a large group of tenanted pubs. At Chadwell Springs they have created the Kings Mead, a high quality food and drink facility, which caters for all types of consumer from the local community. Families are welcome and it is already become a very popular place for business meetings and other social gatherings. The design of the pub is open plan, but with booths and alcoves and subdivisions which allow for privacy as well. All of the furnishings are finished to the highest standard, and it has a superb patio area, which is jam-packed on fine summer evenings and rain free lunchtimes. This is the perfect site to showcase McMullens’ products and their expertise at supplying very high quality fare at reasonable prices. It is already proving to be a great success.

Steve Jordan, General Manager of Chadwell Springs Family Golf Centre and the Kings Mead pub:

"There's been a lot of fairly frantic activity in the rush to get first the pub and then the golf centre fully opened. This has required a lot of hard work from all members of our team, but the customer reaction has been simply outstanding. We are thrilled that so many people are enjoying the golf range and the pitch and putt course, and are commenting favourably on the whole set up. The pub has been doing outstanding trade and both businesses are working very well together."

The main golf course, which is a par-3 layout, will open next spring, but for now the pitch and putt course, which also doubles as a FootGolf venue, is doing very well. It is proving to be extremely popular for both types of user and it is pitched fair and square at the family market. The greens are cut, rolled or brushed every day and it is kept in beautiful order throughout. The tees have been raised with railway sleepers and use a Huxley Golf teeing mat, which provides an excellent surface and cuts down on some of the maintenance that would have been required with grass tees.

The delightful pitch and putt course was designed by Colin Jenkins, Dave Smith and Head Greenkeeper Paul Harper. This was built in-house by Paul and his colleague Duncan Ling, with help from Dave and several additional assistants. 

Dave Smith, who is a very respected teacher and club fitter and has been plying his trade and acting as the bridge between past and present golf facilities, is hugely looking forward to his new role as director of golf. He spoke to Golf Features:

"It is great to have been able to see the new complex emerge before our eyes over the last few years. Paul and I are obviously particularly proud of the pitch and putt course, which has been a real labour of love. The range now provides me personally with one of the best opportunities in the region to develop my coaching and broaden the sport in Hertfordshire. I have spent most of my career here and so it is very exciting to now have the centre open."

Dave and his PGA colleague Carl, will be leading a team of teaching professionals who will provide golf tuition to all elements of the community, with a strong outreach programme to local schools and community groups. This is precisely what McMullens want, as the success of their pub will be made by its interaction with the whole of the local community. 

Heydon Mizon, McMullens Joint Managing Director, commented:

"Chadwell Springs has been an exciting project for us. Whilst we have built new pubs before, building a driving range and developing a golf course has been a first. It is a great solution to get the best use out of the space and opportunity, and will provide a business that can trade well the entire year.”

The History

Nearly ten years ago, GRN Consulting were asked to do a report on the viability of the Chadwell Springs Golf Club for its owners, McMullens, the Brewers. McMullens had owned the asset for a number of years, but the business was not profitable.  As with most reports they write, GRN Consulting did not mince their words. The existing club was being endured by a maximum of 200 older golfers, who were not very receptive to sharing the course with others - their ideas of growing the game would have made Rory McIlroy look like a visionary! The course too was not suitable for golf. It had many blind holes, both tee shots and approaches were not visible to the players as they struck their shot. The greens were also positioned close to edge of the property, so ball escape issues were becoming more of a problem. 

The course had originally been an 18 layout before it was cruelly divided by the A10 dual carriage way. This meant that Chadwell Springs had a long decline. When GRN Consulting see facilities of this type, they must always be careful to acknowledge the sensitivities of the existing users of the course, even if their tenure is to be irrevocably changed. McMullens were very good in dealing with the existing membership with compassion and understanding and held several meetings to explain the coming steps, which would result in all of the members having to seek alternative golfing arrangements. 

The existing nine hole course and dreadful old clubhouse were to be replaced with a nine hole par three course, a nine hole golf pitch and putt course, a 20 bay, floodlit golf range and some outstanding short game area with two vast putting greens. 

The demolition of the old clubhouse was to make way for a new family orientated pub, with the ability to serve several thousand main meals each week. In order to create such a completely different golfing landscape, Woodland Environmental were engaged to help design and build out the project. Woodland are specialists in building new golf ranges and courses and remodelling existing courses, which is certainly quite a speciality. They use, where possible, a decent amount of imported material, which is inert and therefore safe to use for landscaping purposes. This material is often from major building projects and is a very real cost for any developer looking to build a new development, as the removal of inert material can cost many thousands of pounds. Woodland, who have all the necessary Environment Agency accreditation and are well equipped to handle the process. 

All the soil on the golf course within the working areas of the agreed design is stripped off and stockpiled for restoration on the new landform, lorries then arrive on site and tip their loads of pre-qualified and chemically approved clays and soils in a highly organised manner in accordance with Environment Agency requirements.

Woodland then place and reshape the landscape with some major bits of machinery and then replace the sites original topsoil and seed the area. They also add substantial drainage work and full irrigation systems so that the course - or range - they leave behind is of the highest order. Woodland director, Chris Murphy spoke with Golf Features:

"Obviously we are delighted with the project. It has gone from being an old fashioned golf course in need of updating to a superb modern facility, which offers a great range of golf activity to players of all abilities. The site was well located and so we were able to get a good 'tip rate' for the incoming material, which enabled the project to progress and us to build a quality facility for our client.”

Across the centre, every customer is greeted with a warm friendliness, which encourages return visits and great word of mouth feedback. This is already a busy centre and it is bound to grow in popularity. Golf Features will be back next year for the opening of the main par-3 course but until then, Chadwell Springs has clearly set a new standard for Family Golf Centres.

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