“From the beginning it was literally me, my Alsatian dog, a camera and a mobile phone!”
Having recently celebrated 15 years of golf here at The Grove, it has given me a chance to reflect on my personal journey that started nearly 18 years ago. It has been one hell of a ride!
We actually ‘broke ground’ on construction of the golf course in July 2000. From the beginning it was literally me, my Alsatian dog, a camera and a mobile phone! It was my job to oversee construction and it was a hugely exciting project for me to be involved in.
Working with Kyle Phillips, the architect was a total pleasure – in the early days the project was all-encompassing. Whatever was done, it was my job to ensure the very best quality was achieved throughout the construction process so that we were left with a world-class product when the construction team finally left the site.
The design has been a spectacular success. The many slopes around the green complexes, the rolling collars and swales, have become a signature of The Grove. They continue to challenge the maintenance teams due to their steep undulations, but they genuinely make playing golf here very special.
When we welcomed Tiger Woods…
I still can’t believe that on a golf course so young, we welcomed the world’s Top 50 players to compete for the American Express Championship in 2006. It was a major part of our recent history and put us on the global map. To witness Tiger Woods in his prime win on a course that personally means so much to me, was very emotional. The players loved the course and it was so well received all week.
The 2016 British Masters
I had between 70 and 80 staff maintaining the golf course for The British Masters. It was being staged slightly later in the year, we had less daylight in October, more leaves to contend with, morning frosts and more sets of eyes watching the event on television. It was 4am starts for the team all week and late finishes. It was a monumental effort that the spectators didn’t get to see, unless they got up very early!
Quite honestly, the business is thriving. We have no members so every golfer is a pay-and-play visitor. This creates maintenance challenges – there are very few quiet times to get onto the golf course – but the experience is as good as the day it opened, if not better. Our golfers expect The Grove to be pristine every day, but I’m proud to oversee a course that delivers a world-class test of golf that is fun and enjoyable for our guests.