The range at Richings Park is split into two covered sections. Both provide six bays with the more permanent structure an adapted barn. There are also areas where people can hit from the grass.
Richings Park is very close to Heathrow and was originally part of a large estate with the main house burning down in 1947. Today the clubhouse complex is made up of the old coach house and stables, with the members’ bar still retaining some of the old stable furniture. These historic buildings have been added to, and enhanced, over the years and give a charming mixture of old and new to the facilities offered. There are several separate areas within the clubhouse for events and the area can easily be subdivided with bi-fold doors to allow for differing functions to take place at the same time. The Longbarn is very popular with small and medium sized groups.
The car park and greenkeeping complex are part of the old walled garden and there are a number of beautiful features scattered across the estate, which were linked to the old manor house. The course itself winds through some delightful streams and lakes with ancient oak trees and more modern planting combining to create quite a delightful setting.
Carl Lindsay runs Richings Park on behalf of the Howth Estate, which until recently also owned the Deer Park complex in Dublin. Carl was previously the general manager of Stapleford Abbotts, which is part of the Crown Golf group of courses, but he has spent most of his time in the catering business; he is ably assisted with the management of the facility by his colleagues Simon Brown and Sabrina Ferriggi.
The course is flat, ideally suited to those who find walking on a more undulating course problematic. There is a fleet of EZGO golf buggies, all of which have been supplied with a GPS system, providing yardages for the golfers and information for the management team who can track the buggies around the course whilst also preventing their theft.
There has been considerable thought put into the pricing strategy at the club. For example, golfers can join as 5 day members for £918, but also have the right to play at weekends for an additional £10 green fee; 5 day plus membership (£1071) gives free golf access during the week and also after 3pm at weekends. This is a great and innovative idea, as it increases the clubhouse trade and provides excellent value for members. Junior membership (£250) moves into three additional intermediate packages (£380, £597 & £786), up to the age of 30, so golfers are encouraged to stay as members – an excellent policy which other venues may well copy.
The golf range at Richings Park has been relocated to be more accessible and convenient for the clubhouse complex. Previously it was away from the clubhouse on the other side of the river that runs through the estate. It is run by PGA professional Colin Anscell, and his fellow pros Chris Rodgers and Ben Goater, who is still a trainee. The range, which is split into two sections, is well presented with a continuous strip of matting that allows for lots of options for those practising. Old Power Tee trims have been used to finish off the matting. There are two runs of six bays, one formed from an old barn and the other a temporary structure that provides some protection from the elements, without being built from more permanent materials. Carl explains:
“The golf range has been a great success since we switched its location. It is popular with their members and visitors and Colin and his team do an excellent job with the coaching. We have some good quality short game areas which are all irrigated and cut to the same standard as the main course, so golfers can practise all elements of their game before or after they’ve played on the course, and many just come only to use the golf range if they have limited time.”
To land a helicopter at Heathrow Airport cost several thousand pounds and whilst the full facilities of one of the world’s busiest international airports are not available at Richings Park, Carl has introduced a helicopter landing area close to the golf range and car park. It can be accessed for just £120 plus VAT per landing. Well-heeled flying travellers can then take a short taxi ride, or in some cases a limousine ride, to Heathrow and their onward destinations. It works very well and brings a host of celebrities to Richings Park, including some famous golfers, many of whom enjoy Footgolf, as well as the golfing attractions and its convenient location.
Footgolf is played at Richings Park on a course previously used as an academy layout. It is popular and brings a different crowd of leisure customers to the complex. Separating proper golfers from Footgolf players is a very good idea and Richings Park is lucky to have enough space to provide amenities for both.
The location of Richings Park is outstanding. Hundreds of thousands of people live and work in close proximity and the complex is located less than 10 minutes from Heathrow’s main terminals. This provides for many opportunities and whilst planes can frequently be seen, there is only a minimal impact from noise. Approximately half of the business at Richings Park comes from functions and catering. Carl has enormous experience in running events of all sorts of different sizes and was a specialist event caterer for many years; he completely understands the delicate balance between quality and profitability, whilst maintaining happy customer relations. His Sunday roasts are very competitively priced at £10 for the main course and regularly sell out on Sundays, leading to increased business on the course, the Footgolf course and also in the bar. The clubhouse is a complete delight in the spring and summer months with its lovely patio areas and views across the course and grounds.
The venue is very popular for societies and also parties, wakes and weddings. The clubhouse is fully licensed to perform civil ceremonies, so those wishing to tie the knot can do so in idyllic surroundings, before enjoying their wedding breakfast on site. There is a huge amount of industry in the area and large corporate events make up a useful chunk of revenue for Richings Park. Carl elaborates:
”I have particularly enjoyed encouraging more corporate events to come to Richings Park. It is an area that I have some experience in and our catering team are brilliant at entertaining these guests and ensuring that they have a great time. We rely heavily on excellent feedback to underpin the growth of the business. There is plenty of space around the clubhouse area, the car park and golf range, so we can easily host hundreds of people in huge marquees, even if the event is way too big for our spacious clubhouse and conference rooms.”
Although the Manor house burnt down just after the war, many of its features are retained and the golf course is now set in the grounds of this once grand estate. There is a river and a several lakes running through the property, which provide a wonderful opportunity for local wildlife – herons, kites and muntjac deer are regulars. It is remarkable that being so close to one of the world’s busiest airports, the tranquil spaces and delightful setting seem many hundreds of miles away from the M25 and all those planes.
Richings Park is beautifully run and well worth visiting. It is easily accessible by car, public transport and, of course, helicopter.
For more details please visit the website: Richingspark.co.uk