Gavin McBride left a rewarding aviation career to invest in a new indoor golf simulator room. Five days after opening, coronavirus struck
The place was full, the gamble had been a success. Gavin McBride had swapped a career as a helicopter mechanic to run a golf simulator room and his £80,000 investment appeared to be paying off.
But the best laid plans of many have been shattered by coronavirus and his were no exception.
“I was only open for five days before I was closed,” he said of Golf Indoors, his luxury space that had opened to acclaim at Sports Connexions Leisure Centre, in Warwickshire.
“We’d had a really good open day on the Sunday. It was pretty much fully booked and when we opened for trading we had a really good week.
“On the Friday, I had people in when the [leisure centre] director came in and said I had to shut down.
“We had the news on the TV and the press conference was on and I knew it was going to happen anyway.”
McBride had worked on Apache helicopters since he was 17, serving in the British Army for eight years and then contracting to the US Army in Kuwait and Afghanistan before spending two-and-a-half years with the Dutch Air Force.
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With a wife and two children, though, he was tired of being away from home – and golf gave him the chance to get back to his roots near Ryton-On-Dunsmore.
“Over the last few years, I started playing golf quite regularly with my dad. He retired and then started playing every morning.
“I’d come home every two weeks from Holland and we would play on a Sunday. It just got a bit more serious and I started playing a lot more.
“My idea was ‘I have to come home’. I’d been away for over five years, but commercial aviation wasn’t an option and there wasn’t any military aviation around my area.
“This was kind of a drastic change but I’ve always wanted to run a business and this felt perfect for us as a family.”
McBride took on what was the former training ground changing rooms for Coventry Football Club – “the room was all blue and white and it had a big concrete bath in there that we had to get a special team to come and take out. It was so thick, the drills they used were shaking the whole building.”
He put in the GC Hawk Simulator, from Foresight Sports, and installed the largest screen he could fit to provide an immersive experience.
It was designed to be intimate, holding up to eight people with comfy sofas and lounge chairs facing the hitting area.
Now the coronavirus has called a halt to everything. But McBride hasn’t wallowed – taking a job as a Just Eat delivery agent to, in his words, “just keep busy”.
And though his new venture has suffered a setback, he remains hugely optimistic he will push on when the lockdown finally comes to an end.
“There’s not much I can do with my golf business,” he said. “I put so much time and effort into the launch that everything is pretty much covered.
“I feel like I’ve got a relaunch again. Luckily, a lot of people have said, ‘Look, we’ll be coming back’.
“The feedback was incredible. There’s nothing like this in the area and I’m not worried. I’m actually quite excited about the future and what it will bring.
“With the Masters being in November, golf is going to talked about during the winter and that’s perfect for me.”
Find out more about McBride’s new venture here.
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