The short game areas are close to the clubhouse, 1st tee and 9th green.
Neil Burke and his business partner Matt Allen have owned the golf course at Horne Park since 2003. The course has developed greatly over the years of their ownership allowing Neil and Matt to tackle other projects elsewhere. For many years they owned the beautiful nine hole course at Foxbridge, whilst they have also hugely developed and improved Horsham Golf and Fitness. Horsham started life as a nine hole course, but is now a full length 18 hole course, complete with a gym, nine hole academy course, a golfpod range with the latest technology, a big retail shop and a thriving food and beverage operation.
Neil runs both operations on a day-to-day basis and lives just a few miles north of the course at Horne Park.
When Neil and Matt took over, the course was poorly drained and not very well presented. Today, it is cut with crisp lines and beautifully contoured fairways and greens. It is relatively short - an 18 hole par of 69 - with different sets of tees on most of the holes, providing a par 5 on the 2nd hole, which is played as a long par four on the 11th second time around. The parkland course is relatively flat with gentle undulations and was rather over bunkered in earlier times. Several bunkers have been removed in recent years, which has improved the look of the course, speeded up play, and saves time in course preparation.
Coaching is delivered by MY Golf Academy at both Horsham and Horne Park. All sorts of different lessons are available: Get Into Golf sessions, junior classes, group classes and specialist individual tuition. There is a Trackman in the swing studio and a highly advanced fitting service for all clubs in the bag, including a new dedicated area for an indoor putting studio, featuring Quintic Ball Roll and SAM PuttLab. The studio offers a comprehensive 60-minute putting assessment with Paul Williams, their dedicated putting coach. In the session, a golfer’s current performance is measured from both a technical and mindset standpoint – the golfer leaves the session with their model set up, their putter customised to their requirements, with a solid foundation from which their putting skills can be developed.
The course is beautifully presented and a pleasure to play.
The golf range covers an area of over 10 acres and has 7 indoor bays, the Swing Studio, as well as 12 outdoor bays all neatly surrounded by Astroturf and bay dividers. At the far end of the range there is a Dryrainge providing an additional 3 bays. Robots from AMS are used to collect the range balls and cut the outfield. Horne Park have just added the latest Nayax system, installed by European Golf Machinery, which allows card payments for any size of basket: this is almost an essential for any golf range wanting to maximise their range returns. There are significant savings to be had from using the Loyalty Card system in operation, which offers up to 33% reduction in ball costs. In addition to the range, there is a dedicated chipping green and 400 square metre putting green.
Over the lockdown period, Neil and his greenkeeping team completed the network of paths serving the entire course. This allows golfers to use buggies 12 months of the year, providing that the buggies stick to the paths in the wet at times, whilst also allowing greenkeeping work can be carried out in the winter without creating any damaging and unsightly marks on the grass.
The way the paths are built is highly innovative and other facilities may wish to copy the style of building paths around the golf course. In essence, turf is removed from the sides of the proposed 2 metre wide path - the turf being approximately 30 to 40 cm wide - which is then re-used to trap a two metre wide strip of Tarram.
Tarram is a membrane that allows water to pass through whilst preventing weeds from growing up and through. This means that the path will remain free of weeds in the future. Crushed concrete, road planings or another base material is then placed on top of the Tarram and neatly held in place by the turf on either side. The path is given a gentle camber and is above the level of the ground so it is far dryer than the traditional method of cutting a notch in the ground and filling it with material. Over time, the turf fully links with the surrounding soil and grass and you are left with a beautiful path, fully functional, dry and inexpenesive, built using the minimum amount of materials.
Inside the clubhouse, there is a small shop, fed by the much larger retail operation at Horsham Golf and Fitness. The staff who run the retail aspect of the two businesses have over 100 years experience between them of buying and selling golf equipment, much of it gained in the key environment of Britain’s most aggressively priced golf shops. This experience has enabled them to match any offer or deal on clubs and other golf items. Indeed, their unique ‘World Price Promise’ is available to all of their members and visitors.
In addition to the shop, there is a very pleasant open plan clubhouse area, with a traditional bar that is a favourite haunt of golfers and locals alike, and is both comfortable and affordable. You can turn up for lunch, coffee or a casual drink anytime - you do not need to play golf or be a member to use the facilities. The bar area extends into a lovely, bright conservatory with superb views over the short game areas and the first of the nine holes. There is also an attractive patio that wraps around the clubhouse, allowing golfers to maximise outside enjoyment on sunny days.
The whole theme of the golf club is based around a friendly family-orientated golf facility. It has a very strong membership, yet also welcomes members of the public with new golfers finding the course manageable, whilst more experienced golfers also enjoy the courses condition, which is quite exceptional given the size of the facility.
When you join, you will receive a free introductory golf lesson with a coach from MY Golf Academy, a £10 welcome voucher to spend in their Pro Shop and a Sunday Lunch for 2 voucher.
You will also receive a loyalty card, which offers the opportunity of discounts on range balls, as well as vouchers offering you the chance to experience a round at their partner club, Horsham Golf.
Golf Features caught up with Neil:
“We are very pleased with the way the golf course is progressing. We have a very supportive membership and it is an absolute pleasure to deal with so many great people. There is a lovely buzz about the club and many of the members are personal friends of mine of many years standing. We are very fortunate to be in such a good location and have such a great team dedicated to looking after our golfers, both in the clubhouse and on the course. It’s not really surprising that the course is constantly busy and this provides a stable footing for the business now and in the future.
“The practice facilities are excellent and allow Mike Yorke and his Academy coaches to teach hundreds of golfers and bring more people into the game. Whilst some of these players will leave and join bigger, longer and grander golf clubs, many of them stay and join the happy throng.”
Let’s give the final word on Horne Park to Neil’s good friend, Jamie Spence. Jamie is a multiple winner on the European Tour and Great Britain’s Rio Olympics Golf Captain, describes our beautiful 9-hole course. He plays regularly in The Horne Park Pro-Am:
“An outstanding, testing course, that doesn’t take all day.”
More details are on the website: hornepark.co.uk