Our daily golfing episode this fine late autumnal day was in ‚??down country‚?? well south of London in West Sussex at the Goodwood Estate.¬†¬† The Goodwood Estate has plenty going on as we learnt from one of the directors who arranged our golf here, Mr Eddie Bullock.¬† More on Eddie shortly.
The Goodwood Estate is the home of the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of March who still pass their days in the huge manor that sits out across the fields from the clubhouse and is pictured below.¬†¬† The Duke still sits on the board overseeing the Estate, which is now a serious business with a significant turnover from a variety of assets such as the speedway, the racing track, rent from the Rolls Royce factory, from a serious food & beverage operation across a number of venues, and of course from the 36 holes of golf on the property.¬†
The membership structure here is very progressive.¬†¬† In an attempt to connect with the younger and busier golfer, the membership fee for golf at Goodwood is very minimal and members then can purchase ‚??credits‚?? which they use up each time they wish to play golf.¬† The amount of credits for a round varies depending on the popularity of playing on that day ‚?? there are ‚??peak‚?? times, ‚??popular‚?? times and ‚??peaceful‚?? times, each with cost a varying amount of credits.
Using a buggy is also part of the culture here and after seeing these classy numbers I can see why!! We resisted temptation to drive around the course but check out the carts pictured below.¬† The buggys are modeled on an old form of transport that was used to get around the Estate.¬† They‚??re so distinctive they pop up on all kinds of marketing about the Estate - a new point of differentiation!
Goodwood is also welcoming of the canine species as members!¬† Upon arrival we saw a number of dog bowls in the foyer of the clubhouse and Eddie told us about how the dogs are actual members of the club with their membership levies going towards the local RSPCA.¬†¬† In true English style we saw a number of dogs walking around the course enjoying the course with their owners¬† (obviously without the distraction of the annoying little white ball).
The clubhouse is very impressive too ‚?? a laid back affair where folk cruise around in casual dress, where phones are allowed and the casual atmosphere juxtaposes with the formal surroundings around.¬† Walking around the Goodwood Estate made me think a little about the class culture that is very evident in England.¬† It‚??s like you know your place in society & it seems like there is little optimism or ambition for change.¬† I think this is a different attitude to the very egalitarian culture back home.¬† And in NZ we simply don‚??t have properties like this nor Dukes or Earls inhabiting them.¬† So, really, it is quite difficult to comprehend or understand the concept of serious ‚??old money‚?? that has been passed down through generations for hundreds and hundreds of years.
The buildings have been here for hundreds as years as well, and the clubhouse impressively glimpses through trees at you on the 18th green.
The course is a James Braid design that has been modernized over the years. Now the first 6 holes run through valleys where you often take aim at the huge grandstand in the backdrop. ¬†It was a tough walk as after putting out (often making a bogey) you have to walk back a fair way to the back tees and take aim again up the valleys, and into the breeze. ¬†It's a tough start, although we were given some respite due to the greens rolling a bit slower than usual and not being anywhere as tricky as I'd imagine them to be.
The course then climbs onto the hills with traditional doglegs and there are some impressive moments. The views out across the down country and towards the Chichester cathedral in the backdrop are awesome. ¬†And the redan style bunkering on the par five 11th, and then the short par three 12th (pictured below) were all class. ¬†The course then winds its way back towards the clubhouse, crossing underneath the road for a particularly strong finish through the trees.
As I said Goodwood is a progressive club, with a chilled out atmosphere that contrasts with it's rich history. ¬†Part of this may be down to the impressive man who is Eddie Bullock. ¬†In our 30 minutes or so with Eddie we not only learnt plenty about the Estate, but also of his history. ¬†Eddie is a golf professional but it sounds like he's had a successful career in golf club management, including quite some time at Woburn. ¬†Now he's involved in a few projects as a consultant helping a few courses, some to navigate through the tough and extremely competitive times in the golf industry. ¬†Next year Eddie is taking up the Captaincy of the British PGA and no doubt we'll be seeing him on TV once or twice handing over a trophy here or there. ¬† Bottom line is Eddie was a real gentleman and it looks like he and his colleagues at Goodwood are doing great things. ¬†Thanks to everyone for having us and making us feel incredibly welcome.¬†
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