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Driving range improvements result in 155% growth in five years

Driving range improvements result in 155% growth in five years.

Tilgate Forest Golf Centre is located within a 2000-acre country park in West Sussex. Its wide range of public recreational facilities include a nature centre, watersports activities and high ropes courses.

The established 18-hole golf course made it into the coveted Golf World Top 100 Courses in 2022 and has taken pride of place since, testament to a number of improvement projects completed in recent years. Along with a family-friendly clubhouse and 29-bay driving range, the venue is operated by Glendale Golf on behalf of Crawley Borough Council.

Back in 2012, a £multi-million project to construct a new clubhouse was completed. Work also included the full refurbishment of the existing driving range building and outfield.

Ten years on and with the pandemic giving golf a welcome boost, a second phase of improvements was delivered to ensure the driving range met quality and volume demands, resulting in 155% growth in participation in the last five years.

Along came the game changer

In the last few years, driving ranges have evolved from simple practice facilities to vibrant family entertainment destinations. The emergence of ball-tracking technology has redefined a trip to driving range, helping to ‘gamify’ golf and broaden its appeal.

Michael Chapman, Tilgate Forest’s General Manager explains: “Glendale Golf has always embraced technology, using it to enhance the customer experience. We were one of the early adopters of Toptracer®, having trialled the system in nine bays in 2018.”

Michael adds: “The trial was an immediate success and we went on to install Toptracer® in all 29 bays. Not only does the technology appeal to serious golfers to help track their progress, but it offers a range of interactive games that appeal to a much wider audience. One of the most rewarding outcomes since introducing Toptracer® is the number of newcomers we now see on the driving range.”

The popularity of the driving range has also been acknowledged by the golf coaching team. Luke Ringrose, Director of the Tilgate Forest Golf Academy commented:

“The improvements made by Glendale Golf have doubled the amount of visitors to the driving range in just a few years. Our friendly and welcoming vibe, combined with the excellent facilities meant that those new to golf have had a blast and can’t wait to come back for more.”

Luke continues: “It’s the job of our coaching team to help newcomers enjoy all the wellbeing benefits that come with golf. The range is often the start of their golfing journey, where they learn the skills to enjoy the game and eventually become members.”

“Toptracer® not only enhances the experience for the range user, but it’s also been a brilliant coaching tool for our team. Using the Toptracer® App, our students can view their progress over time. We can even use the app to set tasks & performance goals between lessons.” 

There’s more to come…

The success of Glendale Golf’s investment is clear to see, but the story is far from over. Recognising the importance of driving ranges as a feeder into other areas of their golf business, a third phase of improvements is due in 2024.

The upcoming works include a six-figure investment into outfield drainage and internal improvements to the range building.

Further enhancements include the introduction of a food & drink app. This means golfers can use their mobile phones to order refreshments straight to their bay, making the driving range an ideal choice for a ‘mates & dates’ nights out!

The project has not only resulted in triple-digit growth for Glendale Golf, but has helped transform Tilgate Forest Golf Centre into an important recreational hub for the local community.

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