Scott Mac Callum catches-up with European Golf partner, David Lowe, to discuss the increased use of synthetic surfaces at home, on the course and in adventure golf.
There can be little doubt that our weather has become more extreme in recent years and golfers have had to become used to finding something else to do with their weekends, as their golf clubs have struggled to keep their courses playable in the face of record rainfall and unfeasible high water tables.
Frustration all round. Wouldn’t it be great if an opportunity to at least practice during the times when the course is out of action, or even better be able to hone short game skills at home, so you can hit the course running when the water logging finally subsides? Well, synthetic grass company, European Golf, has the answer and has been installing top quality synthetic short game facilities at golf clubs while also offering domestic users the chance to have European Tour quality putting surfaces in their own homes. “There has been a growing demand for people wanting to have their own personal indoor and outdoor golf greens. It really is an expanding business,” explained David Lowe, managing director of European Golf.Your content here…
“Some of the top professionals, including Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, as well as England football star, Michael Owen, have already had greens installed in their gardens. “They are pretty much maintenance free and it gives them the opportunity to sharpen up their short games and practice their putting when they are not on Tour,” explained Lowe, who has just signed up European Tour pro, Chris Hanson, to promote European Golf. “Chris is our new blood European Pro. He was the final player to earn his card at the 2015 Tour School and has just recorded his first top 10 finish on the European Tour. We installed his European Golf green at his home last week,” revealed Lowe. A European Golf green requires no watering, feeding, mowing or weeding and the company’s portfolio includes golf greens, indoor golf, winter tees, short courses, training aids, lawns, golf teaching studios, walkways right through to full golf course design. They offer two options for the domestic customer. There is a putting green, a nylon surface which offers excellent
putting and chipping practice, and then there is the European Tour Infill which is designed to give the correct reaction to a ball hitting the surface from any distance – so a well struck shot will create backspin. But while European Golf is providing the golf professional and the amateur fanatic superb opportunities to practice, it is perhaps an initiative in which they are involved – together with Sport England – which may have the greatest impact on the game of golf as a whole. “It is has long been accepted that golf needs to find more ways of being accessible to the masses – to bring through the next generation of player and, hopefully, bring down the embarrassingly high average age of those people who play, and love the game,” said Lowe. “Everyone apparently knows what is needed and many have their own solutions, however, the answer, in my humble opinion, is fairly simple. Get golf clubs into the hands of children, make it fun, give them guidance and lessons, and make sure they have access to places to play. “Thanks to a funding initiative created by Sport England we may finally be moving in the right direction on the final one of those. “Sport England is offering golf clubs grants of up to £75,000 to install short game academies with the proviso that the club opens its doors to non-members
to come in and use them,” explained Lowe, who, through the scheme, has already built seven short game facilities, through which children and non-golfers alike are being introduced to the game. “Golf Pros are pushing for them as it means they have all-year round teaching facilities and, with the open door policy, it means that more golfers should be attracted to the game which can only be a good thing all round.”
The European Golf installation team – which is spearheaded by Lowe’s partner in the business, Josh Bartlett, a man with a wealth of experience in the business of installing golf greens – has already installed short game facilities at among others Silvermere, in Surrey; Hexham, in Northumberland, as well as Cottingham and One Stop Golf, in East Yorkshire. “We have five other clubs who are currently awaiting the go-ahead and we anticipate that number growing as more golf clubs begin to appreciate that the Sport England grant aid is available, and that the maximum sum, of £75,000, means that the club will have little or no financial outlay themselves,” continued Lowe. “All they need to do is provide a business plan and guarantee that the facility will be open to all.” Lowe has worked for European Golf since 2009, and in 2014 he and Bartlett purchased the company from the original owner, who decided to move abroad.[/one_third]
“We realised that it was a growing market, and when the opportunity to buy the company came along we grabbed it with both hands. “Josh and I can really concentrate on moving the business forward, with both the domestic greens market and the professional side – offering all year round facilities for golf professionals to carry out their teaching,” added Lowe. But there is one other initiative which sees European Golf promoting golf to youngsters, one which if it takes off, might just be the real key to getting them to develop a love of the game which will last them a lifetime. “We have just installed our own Captain’s Bay Adventure Golf Course, at Metro Golf in London,” said Lowe. “It’s a nine-hole mini course which is great fun for the entire family. It’s not like crazy golf. “We have installed top quality putting surfaces, so a golfer can practice his putting there and get the feel of real golf, while the whole family can get enjoyment out of it. “It is giving more people a taste of golf which can only be a good thing.” The popularity of synthetic grass within golf has grown markedly in recent years, and with the improvements in playability, it has become a genuine option for golf clubs and individuals looking to maximise playing or practice opportunities.