Royal Norwich’s manager: Golf clubs need to diversify

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 9, 2019 10:17

The manager of the first royal golf club in the world to relocate has said that golf alone may no longer be sufficient for most clubs to maintain a sustainable business.

Ian Poulter played the inaugural round at the new Royal Norwich course last month

Phil Grice, general manager of 125-year-old Royal Norwich Golf Club, which relocated last month, features a purpose-built club featuring a microbrewery, bakery and family nature trails, as well as the golf course.

Speaking on a Syngenta Growing Golf podcast, he said: “I am not convinced that golf on its own is enough.

“You have got to create a community and a reason for people to be part of it.”

Grice’s comments come as the old Royal Norwich Golf Club site, which suffered declining membership for 11 consecutive years, is to be redeveloped for housing.

A concept illustration of The Stables building at Royal Norwich, which will house a microbrewery, bakery and range of multifunctional spaces for members and families.

“The business was unsustainable,” he admitted. “The challenge of having an older clubhouse, with an older membership, an older mentality and an older golf course was leaving us cut adrift.”

While the upheaval has enabled the construction of an impressive new 18-hole course and a six-hole academy course, the move is much more than a relocation.

The new course at Royal Norwich

What’s emerging is an entirely new club, with a bold people-centric vision and a clear strategic plan, informed by market research and customer insights.

Grice explained: “We’ve looked at the technological world, we’ve looked at the time-based world, we’ve looked at what youngsters and families want and what fits today, more so than telling them what we offer and hoping they want it.

“We’ve taken a top-down approach as to what we can do – and a bottom-up approach as to what people actually want.”

As well as all-inclusive memberships, Royal Norwich has been successfully selling new points-based memberships.

“We are absolutely, fundamentally, 100 per cent a private members’ club, but we believe we operate in a customer focused way,” he said.

“We’re just ensuring the customer is getting exactly what they want.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 9, 2019 10:17
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5 Comments

  1. Sean October 3, 13:17

    Really interesting this and very commendable

    Reply to this comment
  2. Maurizio October 3, 14:13

    e se lo dicono dalla patria del golf immaginarsi qui in Italia!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Peter October 3, 16:14

    Good stuff ! No, of course not, golf alone won’t cut it anymore ! We have to “arm” ourselves with information, knowledge and desires of those in our communities and primary markets to come up with the right formula for success. Only then can we come up with the right services, offerings and programs that will attract more. Some have to do more than others, especially if potential members have to travel further to the club ! Only recently, I watched a club build additional tennis courts when more people in the community are playing pickleball. We tend to make it harder than it needs to be !

    Reply to this comment
  4. Richard October 14, 11:47

    Fantastic vision for Norfolk and leading the way in the UK. Well done

    Reply to this comment
  5. Garth November 8, 14:24

    I’ve watched my local golf club diversify over recent years very successfully – Adding Foot golf, par 3 short course,Outdoor Adventure Golf, Indoor ‘glow in the dark’ Adventure Golf, children’s play area – Now rather than turning up at a faded,dated venue, the place is humming, and I see a lot of youngsters getting into golf too – It can be done!

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