Established in 1892, Oldham golf club is a historic 18-hole course, nestled on the higher moorland ground, at the foot of the Pennines near Manchester. And, key to the success of the business, is its ability to adapt to all changing environments.
Whether these changes are turf maintenance pressures ‘on the ground’, or the competitive commercial environment, the club has continued to keep up, and its latest venture, footgolf, is proving to be a great diversification success story.
It’s the fastest growing sport in the UK, gaining a reputation for its popularity with large groups of people - footgolf gives golf course businesses new users, as well as a new income stream and the grounds used are completely separate to the golf course.
“When you are open seven days a week and throughout the year it means that new opportunities have to be explored so that usage of the premises is optimised,” says head professional, Andy Earlam of Oldham golf club, who believes that diversifying to attract new users is all part of keeping in business these days.
Already catering for conferences and weddings, as well as offering a wide range of bespoke lessons for all abilities, Oldham Golf Course is no different to many others who have seen a decline in membership since the recession hit.
“We constantly have to look at alternative revenue streams and at what could complement our existing business,” he says.
“Opening during the hours when golfers are usually not around is of course the obvious time to encourage other people to come along and participate in footgolf,” says Andy, who claims that Saturday and Sunday afternoons are the more typical quiet times for golfers.
Although not yet officially launched, the club is already receiving a number of calls for its footgolf, especially requests for party bookings, but the wet weather has certainly delayed its opening.
“If it wasn’t for the wet weather we could have already got the footgolf well under way,” says greens chairman for the course, Ray Fry.
“The diversification has helped to bring in an extra income stream, but we are equally aware of the importance of keeping the golf club in ‘Premier League’ condition as it provides our main source of revenue.
“The wet weather has also had an effect on the golf course. We, like so many other courses around the country, have been challenged by the warm wet damp conditions of late which, without a good hard frost, has made conditions tricky to manage and it difficult to control disease risks effectively.
“The main golf course needs to be in tip top condition, because our customers expect a certain level of play. During the recent weather we’ve had to mitigate disease risk, because keeping the greens smooth and playable is so important to the club. And, through discussions with Bayer, we’ve developed a strategy to ensure disease risk is minimised.
Ray is always on the look-out for the best products to keep Oldham in the best condition possible. After all it’s the lifeline of the business. He started using the Bayer fungicide, Interface® with StressgardTM Formulation Technology, for the first time last year, and can’t speak highly enough of how it has improved the greens’ conditions.
“Because we’ve taken preventative measures with Interface, the golf course has faired well in the wet conditions, where others have had to close. We even had a booking from Leeds last year because our course was playable and theirs was flooded,” he said.
“The beauty of using Interface® is that it can be applied at any point of the year, which means you can treat earlier on in the season, leaving you to spring into action when the weather allows.”
“We make sure we keep an eye on the green and, if we see signs of disease, we can spot-use Interface® and nip it in the bud straight away. We’ll also apply it preventatively this season,” says Ray.
“The wet weather is really holding us back and it’s going to be a late start this time but Interface® will definitely be in this year’s toolbox,” he adds.
INTERFACE® contains 256g/L iprodione and 16g/L trifloxystrobin. USE PLANT PROTECTION PRODUCTS SAFELY. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND PRODUCT INFORMATION BEFORE USE. PAY ATTENTION TO
THE RISK INDICATIONS AND FOLLOW THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ON THE LABEL. TRIPLE RINSE CONTAINERS AT THE TIME OF USE, PUNCTURE AND INVERT TO DRY (MAPP 16060) (PCS 04882)