Grimsby Golf Centre - Refreshed and Renewed

The new Jurassic Adventure Golf Course at Grimsby Golf Centre

My wife Marion and I have owned Grimsby Golf Centre for 21 years. Originally we had a 50% stake with Robert Moorby, who was a prominent retailer at the time. His golf retail business did not go so well and we bought him out some years ago, so we now own the centre in its entirety.

The centre, which was created in the 1990s, included a 24 bay golf range, large retail and clubhouse space and a nine hole USGA Spec golf course.

The provision for golf courses in the Grimsby area is very good and the golf course, despite being manicured to a high standard at the time, was never profitable so the decision was made to turn it into an exclusive 18 hole Footgolf course 10 years ago. This has proved to be very successful as it allows the centre to attract customers who are looking for additional golf themed activities, rather than just being one of a large number of golf courses in the area.

In the meantime, American Golf, the large retail chain, took over the shop at the golf centre, and successfully ran their retail offering for seven or so years. This added a new layer of professionalism to the centre, and the retail operation attracted a very useful number of golfers to the range via their use of the shop.

The range was always busy, but during lockdown we made another investment decision to add technology to all of the golf bays. Each bay has a Flight Scope monitor behind the hitting area while Awesome Golf technology provides the link to the data which produces results on exceptional screens in each bay. The advantage of using an individual doppler radar tracking system in each bay is that the data captured from the club face is also married to the flight data, which gives a golfer the complete picture of the golf swing. There are many other technology solutions, but very few offer more than the tracking of the golf ball. For teaching, club fitting and for the serious golfer, the additional information from the club face is vital for the full experience. The other advantage in selecting Awesome Golf and Flight Scope was that we were able to buy the system outright and not have to pay an ongoing rental for the equipment.

Not surprisingly, there was a large uplift in the takings for the golf range and it has been going great guns ever since.

About three years ago we identified a portion of land within our lease immediately to the left and in front of the golf range that would make an ideal site for an adventure golf course. Planning permission was successfully applied for: the process of planning is tedious and tries the patience of a saint, but eventually, due to the persistence and professionalism of our Planning Consultant Dr Anton Lang, we prevailed and work commenced on site in January earlier this year.

Halfway through the build process, we were informed by American Golf that they would in fact be leaving Grimsby Golf Centre. This was something of a surprise to us and momentarily created some concern. American Golf have been through many different forms of ownership over the last 20 years and not surprisingly, the latest owners have decided to rationalise their estate and focus more on the stores with higher turnover.

However, having decided to take on the whole of the clubhouse area and turn it into an elegant cafe serving delicious snacks and Costa coffee, we have had no regrets. We now employ seven members of staff who are all exceptional and well trained in customer care. Our new team have bonded very well together and they are already providing exceptional customer service, a friendly face, help and assistance and just the right personal touch to encourage customers to come back. With the additional space, we have also created a re-gripping service and a Motocaddy sales and service centre.

Most importantly though, we are now able to look after our customers in great style and despite the Jurassic Adventure Golf being open for only a few days as I write, we have already hosted a number of groups, celebrating birthdays and coming together to enjoy each other’s company.

The adventure golf course was built by Craig Everett and his team at Rock Venture. They did a fantastic job in some difficult weather conditions, allowing us to open on schedule on 17th May. Craig made the following comment:


“We were delighted to have been selected to build the course at Grimsby. The plot is linear in nature but has great visibility from the road and the adjacent Council run leisure centre. I am sure it will be highly successful.”

Marion and I decided that we wanted to a create a dinosaur themed course - we added a crashed plane and an abandoned jeep to generate a serious wow factor. There is also a cave with a cascading waterfall, another separate water feature along with a good number of terrifying dinosaurs which astound and surprise children of all ages - we even have dinosaur sounds piped through the speakers system to add a little extra magic to the experience.

The job of the golf operator is to try to guess what would delight and amaze the target audience. Having finished a round of adventure golf, providing the weather is sunny, there is clearly a demand for cold drinks and ice cream. We opted to have a large ice cream freezer, provided by Walls ice cream and stocked with a plentiful supply of their premium products. In the first two days of trading we sold over 130 ice creams. This is a completely new side of the business to me, as I had never sold ice creams before on any sort of scale. We can restock twice a week from our suppliers and Walls provided us with plenty of point of sale material as well as the superb three tiered freezer unit. Best of all, customers select the ice creams that they wish to purchase and bring it to the counter. Almost all of the ice creams have a shelf life of over a year, so it allows the operator to order plenty of products, safe in the knowledge that they will not go out of date too quickly.

We already operate a ‘Proud to Serve Costa’ franchise at our Basildon venue. It has been hugely successful there and is proving to be very popular at Grimsby: the Costa brand is powerful and clearly enjoyed by our customers. The costs of operating such a franchise are well within the means of all golf centres; the brand is so dominant that it drives a substantial number of additional coffee sales and allows the operator to hit a higher price point than could be easily achieved for a non-branded coffee. In addition to traditional hot drinks, Costa also supply a range of frappes, iced fruit drinks and other delicious summer drinks. These sell for between £3.50 and £4.50 and are highly popular and also very profitable.

Providing food at golf facilities is always a tricky process, particularly at a golf centre with a busy golf range where customers want fast food to grab and go. The business is open from 9 am to 9 pm and throughout that time customers can select anything from the chiller cabinet, and have it quickly heated in the Merrychef and served in less than a minute. I would recommend that all golf operators looking to do something similar invest in a Merrychef: this is far more than just a microwave and in fact has three different styles of cooking a product which provide for perfect browning, cheese melting, and a consistency of finish which delights the customer.

The products that we serve include toasted sandwiches, bacon rolls, pastry sausage rolls, pizza slices, paninis and a whole range of cakes, doughnuts and other sweet temptations, which go so well with a cup of coffee. In addition, we provide a specials menu which allows our staff to be more creative and artistic over the lunchtime period. It is a real bonus for both customer and operator in being able to offer hot food and snacks as well as ice creams, chilled and hot drinks throughout the whole period of trading.

Dinosaur toys may not be high on the list of must-have for a traditional golfer. However, to a young player who has just braved the Jurassic Adventure, a squishy dinosaur toy, ring, modelling set, or any of the other array of inexpensive, yet well-made novelty products crown a perfect day. Doting parents and grandparents are often very happy to oblige and the dinosaur toys work very well in encouraging the young golfer to come back and play again.

The Footgolf course at Grimsby has been in operation for many years, but interestingly we have noticed an increase in trade since the clubhouse was fully operated by our own team, mainly because it is more welcoming, plus we can guarantee access to the Footgolf course at any time during the summer months.

Despite the obvious push to include more non-traditional golfers at Grimsby, we are very conscious that we want to continue to provide more reasons for good golfers to visit. The high-tech range continues to be extremely popular and we have now introduced a re-gripping service and also have become a Motocaddy sales and service station. We stock grips in huge depth and offer a full fitting service in all the various thicknesses and styles that are available on the market. In recent years the number of options for putter grips alone has grown hugely. There are very few putter grips in the world today that we do not have in stock at Grimsby. Motocaddy is the leading brand of electric trolley and the centre not only stock the product in depth, but also carry out servicing and warranty work so that golfers can get their electric trolley repaired expertly and easily at the golf centre. Sometimes even while they wait.

In the near future, we will also be introducing a simulator bay within the clubhouse. This will come into its own in the winter months when play on the course is less appealing. Once again golfers will be able to take advantage of our Costa coffee bar while they enjoy the simulator.

On the adventure course, it is quite straightforward to produce an 18 hole putting layout, but far more difficult to create an enjoyable fantasy experience which thrills and delights, whilst at the same time providing a reasonable test of putting. Craig and his team have done a great job of marrying the excitement from the theming and the quality of the course itself. The success of the business is built on repeat play, so golfers who are happy to return with their friends are the target market. Customer care accounts for much of this, but also the experience itself we have tried to go to great lengths to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.

For those wishing to know more about Adventure Golf and to find out whether it’s a good fit for your golf operation, please feel free to visit and get in touch with me if you want any additional help. When this publication started in 2002 we were a stand for introducing adventure putting courses to the whole of the golf industry. There are now over 500 courses in the country attached to various golf centres and standalone facilities. There is plenty of room for more adventure putting courses of all different types and themes. The competition for such courses is not other adventure putting facilities, but cinemas, barbecues, a day on the beach, and so on.

Children are the driving force in this part of the industry, but strangely account for only 42% of the average number of players using an adventure putting course, the rest being made up of parents, grandparents, dating couples and other adults and seniors. Not surprisingly for the 200 days when children are not at school each year are the ones when we will expect to take the most money. At other times, we will have to use all of our marketing ideas, ingenious schemes and flexible pricing to ensure that we get some off-peak trade to add to the sunny days in the school holidays and weekends. We have also created the opportunity for educational visits by adding information targeted at the children’s market so that not only will they enjoy their round of putting, but they will also learn about dinosaurs, the Jurassic age and even jeeps and planes! Visiting schools will make up a very important part of our off-peak trade.

Of course one of the most compelling factors for building the Jurassic adventure course at Grimsby was the fact that we already owned the facility. Most of the costs, except the capital outlay, had already been paid for by the other activities at the centre. Building a standalone facility can be a very good idea in the right location, but it will still have to pay for separate rent, business rates and all of the other infrastructure costs associated with it. Adding an adventure putting course to an existing golf centre makes huge sense if you want to increase your trade, turnover and profitability. The secondary spend is also a significant factor, so by adding an adventure putting course, the cafe will do considerably better as well.

Everybody is welcome to visit Grimsby Golf Centre. And if you want further information on adding an adventure putting course to your facility, please contact me on 07768 887033 or by email: