Nothing about Stanedge is what you would describe as a typical golf club. And that’s just how owner Fame Tate wants it
The three-hole loop that’s offered takes golf to those who are time-constrained to a whole new level. During the weekly ‘Six at 6’ in the summer, you’re as likely to be teeing it up with a visitor in the club competition as a member. And if you’re worried you’ve left your dress shoes at home then fear not, you’ll have no issues in the clubhouse.
Different, isn’t it? It’s basically driving a horse and coaches through what most of us consider the stereotypical view of how a golf club operates. But, for Fame Tate, life at Stanedge Golf Club is about turning the sport’s traditions upside down. It’s a strategy that’s paying off.
The former Ladies European Tour player saved her local Chesterfield club last February and then ripped up the rule book concerning what the sport is perceived to be like.
“Stanedge is not your typical golf club,” she said. “We want it to be a warm and welcoming environment where you can walk in and there’s no stuffy dress code.
“I feel we’re pitching this at a slightly different market. We are for the members here, but we’re also for the visitors and everyone else.”
The last few months have been a labour of love for Tate, who was so involved in revitalising the 80-odd year old institution she even mowed the greens.
It was a big gamble, one that entailed a loan and a substantial financial commitment. That hard work, though, has been rewarded not only with a steady rise in membership but, just as importantly, the club regaining its place in the community.
“We started ‘Six at 6’ and that was every Wednesday,” Tate added. “It was open to members and non-members. In theory it was 6pm, although tee-times started at 4pm.
“They played six holes, paid £6 and got a meal after. I know it sounds ridiculously cheap it wasn’t about that.
“It was about getting people in and showcasing what we were all about. We did 20 weeks of that. It was absolutely full every week.
“One evening, I was teaching and I was looking back at the clubhouse and there were so many people sat outside on the benches and on the seating. Do you know when you can hear laughter? That was such a rewarding thing to see and what we had created. My mantra from day one has always been we are about more than just golf.
“When the dark nights came, we started doing a quiz on a Wednesday and we’ve kept the same time and the day. People are creatures of habit and we’ve also got different people in.
“We’ve started getting some of the residents in, which is brilliant.”
With the help of Peter Ball, the coach who nurtured Danny Willett, Tate’s coaching academy is expanding all the time, while the clubhouse is like the “Forth Bridge”.
She’s also hived off the restaurant as a separate part of the club to build Sunday lunch and weekday trade as part of a concerted effort to shift the ‘golf club’ title she fears is still a deterrent to so many.
“It’s still not where I want it to be,” Tate said of the future. “There’s so, so much that I intend to do, and want to try and do, and I’ve got loads of different ideas.
“But it’s just thinking outside the box. I don’t see it as rocket science. It’s incredible what we’ve done in a few months.”
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