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The third, annual England Golf Awards took place on Thursday 21st March at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The England Golf Awards, sponsored by Adidas Golf, recognises individuals, clubs and companies who have made outstanding contributions to golf across the country.
Over 400 guests attended the dinner, with BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker presenting the awards.
England Golf Award judges were won over by the way Exeter Golf and Country Club has blended the best of tradition with contemporary style, welcoming golfers of all ages and abilities, and promoting the sport to non golfers.
As well as promoting the sport to non-golfers through Get Into Golf, free taster sessions and a growing junior golf section, Exeter Golf and Country Club launched a women’s golf initiative last summer with the focus on fun and friendship. This ran in conjunction with the England Golf ‘Women In Golf’ national campaign, with the club creating a series of videos and holding events such as a women’s golfer v non-golfer competition.
The club recognises that a happy team leads to happy customers. It invested in staff development such as highly acclaimed ‘Celebrity Service’ sessions with customer service guru Geoff Ramm, golf specialist mystery shopping experts at 59 Club, and every month rewards a team member with a £50 voucher as Employee of the Month and Exeter Chiefs tickets.
Chris Jones, General Manager of Exeter Golf and Country Club said, “This award is for the whole team as they determine the club’s success.
“We are absolutely delighted to have been recognised by England Golf – especially for being welcoming. The club has existed since 1895 and this year celebrates 90 years at our current location just outside Exeter city centre. We pride ourselves in celebrating the best traditions of such a long-established golf course, while moving forward to offer a modern approach to the sport and memberships, securing our future as a club. This award takes us to another level – to be recognised as one of the best clubs in England is just phenomenal.”
Chris continued “We aim to treat every customer as an individual and to make sure our team feel valued. Investment in training encourages our team to put forward ideas and to find ways to create the wow factor and memorable experiences.”
Over recent years the club has taken positive steps to open its doors to both golfers and non-golfers, who can enjoy the swimming, fitness and racket sports. The spa and restaurant at the club are open for non members, along with function rooms for meetings, parties and weddings; together, welcoming thousands of guests to the club each year.
“We have really placed the emphasis on making the club much more open and accessible,” said Chris. “We have worked really hard to make it a place where people come to lunch, or the spa or to take up golf.”
The result is that there’s a waiting list for men’s golf membership and a thriving women’s section, which is reaping the benefits of the ongoing recruitment campaign emphasising the social and health benefits of the sport. The Saturday competitions attract entries from around 180 players, with a busy footfall throughout the week by member golfers.
Exeter Golf and Country Club has around 5,200 members for sports and leisure. A focus on ‘family’ extends beyond the obvious encouragement for getting children into sport, by recognising the importance of members feeling like they are part of the ‘ExeterGCC family’. With members ranging from babies to golfers in their 90s, the club has a wide appeal across generations – in fact some senior members have been members since childhood.
The club insists the key to success is change. To keep driving forward with new approaches, fresh initiatives and communication, Exeter Golf and Country Club has an exciting future ahead.
In 2018, the club launched a members’ app for online bookings for classes, personal training, coaching and tee times; a golf buddy scheme to help new members settle in; free membership for the over-85s to keep them playing, and the Topsham Golf Academy which combines an eight-bay floodlit range with short game practice facilities.
The club has recently announced a five-year refurbishment plan to make it even more welcoming with planned developments across tennis, squash, the gym and fitness studios, changing facilities, café and bar areas and more.
Chris said, “I am so proud to work with an exceptional team, some of whom have worked for the club for over 30 years. This England Golf Award makes all the efforts so worthwhile. We have had wonderful feedback from our members and from our friends across Exeter and the region. Thank you to England Golf and the Royal Lancaster for hosting such a memorable occasion.”
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