New £10m Royal Norwich Golf Club course takes shape as countdown to move continues
There’s still a fair way to go – but bosses at the new-look Royal Norwich Golf Club say they are on course to deliver one of Norfolk’s most ambitious new sporting venues.
Seeding of the course at Royal Norwich Golf Club's future home, at the former Weston Park club at Weston Longville, began at 5am on Friday morning.
Teams of workers will be working from sunrise to sunset to seed up to two holes a week until September 15 to make sure the £10m development stays on track for the first members to tee off in September 2019, when the club will complete the move from Hellesdon, its home of 125 years.
Ground lost to the Beast from the East has already been made up and the 45,000 cubic meter reservoir is now full, in anticipation of the watering-in the course will need over the summer.
General manager Phil Grice said the start of seeding was an important milestone.
"This is real now. Once you put the seed in the ground, it means it's happening," he said.
Already 200 new members have been added to its 550-strong roll in anticipation of the move - a sign of growing interest in the project, believes Mr Grice.
"We're not saying it will be the best golf course in East Anglia, because golf courses are subjective," he said. "But we want people to sit up and see this is a very different venue to anything else out there."
A greenkeepers' maintenance building, built at a cost of nearly £1m, will be complete this month and club management hope to grow it into a turfcare centre of excellence. Built with conference and event rooms and a fibre broadband connection, it is hoped that it will be used for corporate training and hired by other golf clubs, and has already attracted visitors from as far away as Denmark and Canada.
Estates director Peter Todd said the investment in facilities, which include relaxation areas and a pool table, was an investment in the culture at the club.
"We want to be unstuffy. If we want the golf club to be a fun place then it also has to be a fun place to work for the staff," he said. "We want it to be a bit funky."
The finished clubhouse will also include a 200-seat restaurant overlooking the course, conference facilities, a larger pro shop and golf simulators.
Royal Norwich GC is planning to build a micro-brewery and micro-bakery at the site, along with a demonstration kitchen for chefs to teach cookery classes - part of the club's bid to attract more attention from families.
"All of the industry information is that the future is in families," said Mr Grice.
The game of golf has also been experimenting with different formats, such as Golf Sixes, in which rapid-fire six-hole matches are played. The new Royal Norwich course has been designed with this in mind, and can be played at six different lengths, with shorter formats for players short on time.
"We have to take into consideration our family time," said Mr Grice. "In that sense, the birth of cycling as a family sport has been a good thing for us, because families are now looking at other ways in which they can spend time together."