Located just a couple of miles from junction 29 of the M25, and only 18 miles from the centre of London, Romford Golf Club has long been ideally situated to pull keen golfers from miles around – as well as providing a welcome watering hole for the many locals who live nearby.

Founded in 1894, and designed by Open Champion James Braid, the course has been used as a qualifying venue for The Open and has a long and storied history. Like every business, however, Romford Golf Club has faced its fair share of challenges over the last few years.

Many of those challenges were related to the pandemic, but not all of them, as Club Director Colin Jones told Value for Venues:

“In recent years we’ve been having really long and really hot summers, which is obviously great news for most people, but for us it was having a detrimental effect on the quality of the golf course itself.”

Keeping the greens and fairways in the fantastic condition that the club’s members had grown accustomed to over the decades was becoming increasingly difficult. “We knew that the only solution that we could absolutely rely on was to fit an irrigation system right across the course,” said Colin. “But irrigation systems are expensive. Very, very expensive.”

TOUGH DILEMMA

So the directors at Romford Golf Club faced a tough dilemma: try to secure sufficient funding for a new irrigation system, or risk losing club members if the quality of the course deteriorated. This would also make it more difficult to attract new members.

“At the end of the day, the quality of the golf course itself is our number one asset,” explained Colin. “Everything else that happens at this historic golf club is founded on the quality of the course, which has a great reputation. We’ve hosted qualifying rounds for The Open in the past. That tells you all you need to know about how good our golf course is.”

So the tough decision was, in the end, a simple one to make. The course approached the bank who were prepared to lend some, but not all of the six-figure sum required. It was at that point that Colin approached Greene King.

“We weren’t sure about how the conversation would go because we weren’t looking for money to buy beer or refit a bar – we wanted money to fit an irrigation system!”

As it turned out, Colin needn’t have worried. An agreement was reached, and Greene King provided the money required to allow the work to begin.

WINNING FORMULA

The work was finished in spring 2021, and the new irrigation system has been working hard ever since.

“It’s been a massive benefit to us,” says Colin. “The course is in fantastic condition. So much so, that we were asked to host the three-day England Amateur Seniors PGA tournament in 2022. We hosted it jointly with Essex Golf Club and the final was held at Essex in 2022, but we’re jointly hosting it again in 2023 and this time the final will be held here.”

Again, that tells you all you need to know about how well the irrigation system is working and what condition the course is in.

Colin comments: “It’s hard to be precise and analytical about the benefits the investment made to our golf club. There were so many things going on over the last couple of years with the pandemic and so on, but it’s clear to me that the investment in the irrigation system has played a key role in helping us continue to develop the golf course and the business.”

19TH HOLE

The golf course may be the heart and soul of Romford Golf Club, but the famous 19th hole is still a fundamentally important part of the wider business.

“We’re lucky because we are what we call a ‘chimney pot’ golf club,” explains Colin. “We sit in an urban area with lots of houses around us and a big local community who use the club bar regularly, even if they’re not playing golf.

“The fact that members get a 15% discount on drinks has helped us through the tougher times and has meant that footfall has been good and we’re looking forward to the year ahead.”

It’s an inspiring tale of how investing in your business can help deliver solid financial benefits – so if you’ve identified an opportunity that could help take your business to the next level, speak to your Sales Development Manager to find out how Greene King could help.

Just think: what could you achieve with the right investment next year?