Maple Leaf Golf at Horton Park

The golf centre comprises of an 18 hole golf course, a nine hole short-course - which is also used for Footgolf - a busy golf range, an active clubhouse with function rooms and an excellent adventure golf course, which was added to the mix just five years ago. 

Sally and Richard, who is also the chairman of the UK Golf Federation, has been keen to discover new ways of taking golf and golf-themed products to the market. They decided to restructure the golf offering at Horton Park to appeal to a greater number of customers, through being more modern and inclusive. 

The Haygarths, who also own golf centres on the south coast at Chichester and Hillbarn in Worthing, will start building a new golf supercentre in Hounslow next March. The supercentre will include 36 holes of outdoor adventure golf, a further 18 holes of indoor adventure golf, a nine-hole pitch and putt course which will also be used for Footgolf and played on synthetic surfaces, a 50 bay two-tier golf range with ball tracking technology and a large cafe bar and retail outlet. This new centre will set out new ways that golf can be explored, tried and enjoyed by huge number of groups with the emphasis on fun, not competition. The good golfers are more than adequately looked after on the golf range, entry-level players and families who want to have fun will enjoy all the other facilities. This new type of golf centre is exciting and geared far more towards the modern needs of golfers, rather than the traditional impression that golf gives to many people. Golf Features will visit the new site next year and run a full article on this mould-breaking and exciting golf supercentre.
 
Richard and Sally both worked as major-league accountants in Canada prior to returning to the UK. The Canadian connection, together with the fact that Richard and their son Jack hold joint Canadian and UK citizenship, is behind the Maple Leaf branding, which is abundant across the Horton Park site. There are also wonderful Canadian animals popping up to flavour the branding. Beware of the Grisly Bear in the gents’!
 
The golf range, which was fairly busy beforehand, has been transformed by a series of new moves. The range has huge, inflated artificial targets with big multi-coloured bubbles, which are illuminated at night. Hitting your target will momentarily turn off the lighting and provide a rewarding experience for those practising. It is also lots of fun. Toptracer has been installed on all of the bays and provides a high-tech opportunity for the avid golfers to check their stats as well as interesting games for those more interested in recreational fun on the golf range. It is certainly a great mix. The range has also been deepened by 3m, with the additional space allowing for tables and stools behind the bays, which means food and drink can be purchased in the bar and consumed on the range. This makes for a more inclusive night out - and better takings. 
 
Tuition is a very important part of the golf offering art Horton Park, as various customers enjoying their golf themed leisure often aspire to the real game. This is especially true of children and much of the marketing of the centre is given over to encouraging new golfers and those wishing to improve. It’s obviously a good idea, as those wishing to improve need to practice and there are few better practice opportunities than at Horton Park.
 
Footgolf, which is the only department which is not in growth, used to be allowed on the 18 hole course as well as the nine hole course, but there was some serious conflict with better golfers. As the golf course improved, it became much more attractive to traditional golfers, but the irritation of Footgolf users was too great for many of them to bear. The par-3 course was a much better fit for the Footgolf operation and remains quite busy. 
 
The new refit has cost well over £1.2 million in total and includes a complete and comprehensive upgrade of the clubhouse, kitchens, toilets and changing rooms, patio area, function rooms and the range. The work was completed earlier this year and, not surprisingly, the figures have all been extremely good. 
Horton Park Uplift
Since the refit, the centre has hugely improved its financial performance. The percentage uplifts shown are well worth the investment and a genuine reflection of trading since 1.6.18 to date.
 
The Haygarths are quite happy to try doing things in a different way. Not only do they reinvest substantially, but they are also happy to push the envelope on new ideas. One such idea, which is gaining considerable traction for them at Horton Park, is the Cosmic Range Night. A 50 minute session costs £20 and golfers can hit unlimited balls at the multi-coloured illuminated targets, use the Toptracer and even order food and drink to have in the bays. These are promoted comprehensively throughout the golf centre and on its own social media platforms. The take up has been encouraging and range income on these nights has been substantial, with a completely new and different crowd of people attracted. 
 
Richard spoke to Golf Features and elaborated on his vision of the modern golf centre:
“It’s lots of fun trying different ideas and the great thing about our location here at Horton Park is that there are so many people who are looking to enjoy themselves socially. Golf has a staid and slightly fusty image and we are completely turning that on its head with various activities and offerings we have added recently. The whole centre is themed with golf, but everybody is welcome to use the bar and restaurant, and we regularly host other events. Children’s parties are a big part of our business and leisure users of all types can enjoy adventure golf, informal use on the range, user-friendly Footgolf or par-3 golf, with better golfers enjoying our excellent 18 hole course and short game areas. We have been careful not to forget about the better golfers, including building a buggy path that goes around the whole of the 18 holes and the installation of a couple of eco-bunkers for practice. The new cart paths allow us to rent buggies, all of which have the brilliant Visage GPS system, giving yardages to the green from wherever the buggy is. More people have played golf throughout the winter than they ever did here before.”
 
The capacity of the centre has increased enormously with a huge sunny patio linking the adventure golf, golf courses, putting green and short game area, range and clubhouse all into one communal meeting ground. There are excellent gabion style tables and chairs, with caged rocks forming elegant and trendy external furniture. This has to be the most elegant style of un-stealable outside furniture on the market today - the caged rocks are far too heavy to lift. There are fire pits and large parasols all of which are deployed for the enjoyment of those on the patio from morning till dusk and beyond. Downstairs there is a sub-dividable conference centre which can hold 140 people together with a bar area, which can comfortably seat 80. Upstairs there are several new ‘escape rooms’, which are perfect for team building exercises for all types of company activity. They can also be used by individuals and are popular with a wide cross section of the population.
 
There is a good retail offering at Horton Park and a strong teaching presence.

 On the range, cosmic golf is played using ultraviolet balls. These are separated by a special photo recognition system designed and developed by European Golf Machinery, who also supplied the triple golf dispenser, complete with Nayax payment systems. This is the first of its kind in Europe and could prove extremely popular, as many golf ranges will start to offer different types of golf ball in the future so that they can maximise the revenue from their golf range.
 
Not everyone will be keen on the way golf’s appeal has been so unashamedly broadened at Horton Park, but for anybody remotely interested in developing golf as a sport, there is much to learn from this exceptional golf centre. It is extremely well-managed, with promotions well thought out and focused. The staff are well trained, polite and very engaging and there is an aura of friendly purpose to all of their endeavours.
 
For more information please visit the following websites:
 
escapefromtheroom.co.uk
hortonparkgolf.com
hortonparkgolfschool.co.uk