What makes a standout changing room?

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 6, 2021 15:31

As changing rooms are reopening in most of the UK this month, they are likely to play a role in what will differentiate one golf club from another during this participation boom. Here, we provides a guide to what makes a standout facility.

Golf club changing rooms reopened on April 12 as lockdown rules continued to be eased, but in reality it will not be until May 17 when clubhouse life begins to get back to normal, once indoor catering and bar service is resumed after the long lay off.

After months away from what is often a second home for many members, a reacquaintance with an ‘old friend’ will evoke mixed emotions.

While many will be delighted to see their smart, modern and well-equipped changing rooms, there will be those who will be reminded how much their club could do with an upgrade in terms of functional storage facilities and associated ancillary furniture.

These days members have more demanding expectations of their changing rooms and lockers, particularly those who have travelled to other clubs and seen the difference a high quality refit can bring.

Not content with dusty lockers with no ventilation, often too small to hold their golf bag, they will be wondering why their club can’t provide an upgrade.

Management and directors no doubt will be aware of these views, but it is they who have to consider the financial implications of any improvements.

Although clubs up and down the land have suffered from a huge drop in income over lockdown, the astute will be conscious that the subsequent upturn in interest in golf among the public at large, coupled with low interest rates presents an opportunity.

David Fitchett, managing director of Fitlockers, the Rickmansworth-based supplier of high quality lockers to the golf and leisure industries, has noticed a mood of optimism among golf club managers.

“In spite of lockdown, membership is on the rise and enquiries are up at many clubs I’m in contact with. More people are playing and there is an upsurge of interest from non-golfers, women in particular, who are looking for a new, healthy leisure pursuit.

“While many clubs have suffered a loss of hospitality income during the pandemic, many have realised this is likely to be a short term issue and that the future looks rosy.

“I have had a number of projects on the books that have been deferred due to the lockdown, but I’m increasingly hearing that those clubs are finding ways to invest in their facilities, including their changing rooms and lockers and many are getting back in touch.

“That’s good news for members who are demanding a more discerning environment in which to change and store their clubs and belongings.”

David has run Fitlockers for 18 years, supplying and fitting customised wooden lockers and changing room furniture to golf clubs, health and leisure clubs, hotels, spas and schools.

This work has included the fit-out at Royal Lytham & St Annes and Muirfield, where he was tasked with the supply and fitting of lockers for the newly-built ladies changing room when the club abandoned its policy of male-only members in 2019.

But it is not only prestigious projects which makes Fitlockers a well known name in the golf locker industry.

With low overheads, the company prides itself on its competitive edge, being able to provide a value-for-money, high quality design-and-fit service for lockers and ancillary changing room fixtures and fittings to golf clubs of all shapes and sizes.

One club that understood the benefits of being able to provide modern and functional changing rooms is Whitstable and Seasalter in Kent which opened its new clubhouse in February 2020, just weeks before lockdown struck.

Its stylish and energy efficient new clubhouse features a fine bar, spacious lounge, restaurant and events facilities as well as premier quality changing rooms from Crown Sports Lockers that all serve to heighten the golfing experience for all standards of player.

The club with its highly-regarded nine hole course is a busy, friendly venue with 400 members with a lively off-course calendar.

The new clubhouse, designed by Keith Cattrell in conjunction with the board, features a large glazed frontage overlooking the course.

Choice of locker supplier fell to clubhouse project director Malcolm Kent.

“Crown looked the standout supplier and we invited the company in to work directly with us,” he said.

“Selecting the appropriate number of lockers for both the men’s and ladies’ changing rooms was a key requirement to enable us to reduce our waiting list – so too was not compromising the size of each locker.”

Matching full height light oak lockers feature in both changing rooms, all handcrafted in-house within Crown’s factory, the shaker style locker doors are assembled with selected solid oak and oak veneer timber with flush veneer central door panels within solid timber joinery frames. The locker bodies are manufactured using Egger 18mm oak woodgrain MFC board with ABS edging. Standard key-operated cam locking delivers a smoothly streamlined finish and appearance.

Each locker includes an internal holdall compartment above the main hanging space and shoe storage below to fully meet golfers’ storage needs, as does integral upholstered locker seating and robe-hanging space – the female changing area is also fitted with two central freestanding benches and robe hanging.

“Crown proved to be very helpful throughout the whole process,” Malcolm said. “Their drawings were first class and they were always available by phone to answer any queries we had prior to build.

“Crown proved very helpful from the initial contact to project sign off. The quality of the lockers and the expertise of the fitters were both excellent. From start to finish the company was a pleasure to work with.”

Made in Britain manufacturer Crown Sports Lockers has been fitting out private proprietary golf clubs for nearly 30 years and selects timber only from sustainably managed FSC certified sources.

Landscaping the Whitstable and Seasalter clubhouse perimeter will complete the redevelopment before attention turns to the course itself, which was recovered from salt marsh near the coast more than a century ago.

The course boundary lies only 40 yards from the sea and at high tide you can hear the waves crashing on to the shore.

Since its inception Ridgeway has manufactured tens of thousands of lockers that have been installed in some of the most prestigious golf clubs in the world.

The company has seen turnover increase significantly in recent years and has invested more than £500,000 in a new factory increasing its capacity by over 50 per cent. The facility, at more than 18,000 square feet, means the company is now the UK’s largest dedicated manufacturer of wooden lockers.

The company continues to serve the golf industry and boasts an impressive portfolio of satisfied customers at clubs throughout the UK.

Clubs that have recently benefited from locker room refurbishments by the Leighton Buzzard manufacturer and supplier of wooden lockers and associated furniture include Princes GC in Kent, and Whittington Heath in the Midlands.

The famous Princes club has constantly evolved over the years to maintain its standing – and last year upgraded its changing rooms.

Rob McGuirk, club manager, said: “The locker rooms were rather dated after 20 years of use and no longer met the needs and expectations of our members.

“After a tendering process we appointed Ridgeway Furniture who stood out for a combination of competitive pricing and the high quality we were seeking.

“Our locker room was split into two, and included a dead space that we used as a store room. Ridgeway suggested we turned this area into an exclusive locker room, named The 1932 Room after the Open Championship staged at the club during that year.

“It has been fitted out with 32 large lockers, showers and toilets, carpeted and decorated. We aim to add a small bar area in the future to give it an exclusivity and a special ambience.

“The 32 lockers were offered to the membership for rental and were taken within an hour. Each one is personalised with the member’s name and they have created a real buzz about the place,” said Rob.

“They have been very well received and are to a very high specification in keeping with our expectations. Ridgeway were excellent throughout the whole process and I would not hesitate to recommend them.”

With the HS2 route cutting through its course Whittington Health Golf Club in the Midlands, it had to reinvent itself to survive.

A new clubhouse was built in 2019 to replace the historic predecessor which was situated on the A51 between Lichfield and Tamworth.

The new building, designed in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style, complements its surroundings perfectly.

Featuring specifications and finishes of the highest quality, it blends style with function, providing a modern, energy efficient building which is the envy of many.

It includes modern, high specification lockers supplied and fitted by Ridgeway which blend seamlessly into their stunning surrounding, reflecting the Arts and Crafts philosophical focus on craftsmanship, high quality materials, simplicity, and yet high functionality.

Club manager Colin White said: “The lockers have proved very popular and we are delighted with them. We have fitted out both the men’s and ladies’ changing rooms and have included 12 small coin operated lockers for visitor use.

“Ridgeway did a fantastic job and we are pleased with the installation and the finished product. I would recommend them to anybody.”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick May 6, 2021 15:31
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