There were plenty of reasons to run and no one would have argued. “I could have wept when I used to look at a few of the greens.”
If Fame Tate had locked up the wallet, got back in the car and consigned a once-loved club to dust, it might have been seen as a sensible choice.
But walking among the metaphorical rubble Stanedge had become, the classic fallen-on-hard-times tale, she was not put off in the way so many others might have been by the task.
It excited her.
“Although it was absolutely awful – I saw the golf club at its worst – I saw the true potential of the place,” she says on the NCG Podcast.
Cue the roller coaster as Fame bought the closed-down club in early 2019 and set about revamping the Chesterfield 10-holer inside and out.
She gutted the clubhouse and reimagined it, building a new bar and restaurant whose ethos was to appeal to as many people who didn’t play golf as those who did.
The course was re-ordered and reconfigured. New tees, better greens – nothing was missed in the pursuit of excellence.
“It has gone through an absolute transformation, both internally and externally,” Fame explains of the club’s now rapid upward progress over the last 18 months or so. “It is and will continue to be like the Forth Bridge. You get to a point and I’m always pushing on.
“That’s one thing that even throughout Covid we’ve continued to do at every opportunity.”
Ah yes, coronavirus. That just makes it all the more remarkable. Everything at Stanedge has been achieved amid a background of turmoil – two of the wettest winters in recent memory, and a pandemic that forced everyone inside for nearly two months.
Fame, though, is not your conventional golf course owner. While forced confinement was a cause of worry for lots of us, it provided a period of reset for the former Ladies European Tour professional.
“When the world stopped for me, when we were in lockdown, it gave me time. And time was something that I didn’t really have an awful lot of last year. I had no time. No days off. Nothing,” she adds.
“But it actually gave me a chance to sit down and reassess absolutely every element of the business.
“I’ve embarked on a phased approach to financial planning, analysis on cash prevention and sustainability and opportunity moving forward for the winter months.”
She does not lack drive and focus. Fame admits to living and breathing a club that has forced a “complete lifestyle change”.
But it’s precisely those qualities, when you think about it, that’s ensuring Stanedge is thriving even when all the chaos going in the world could be seen by the pessimist as conspiring against it. The rewards have come in more members, more golfers, more visitors and a club that’s regained its place as a hub of the community.
Quite simply, the thought of not succeeding has never been an option.
“This has to work,” she explains. “It’s very easy to say ‘it has to work’ and then one could say ‘what are you going to do to make it work?’
“I think the vision and the mission I put in place last year stands firm and true. There will be continual tweaks to that as we meet the ever evolving needs of the business.
“It has completely changed.”
The NCG Podcast on the revolution at Stanedge
Stanedge owner Fame Tate joined me on the NCG Podcast to talk about the transformation of the club, how they’ve kicked on despite coronavirus, and how she plans to push forward after the pandemic has loosened its grip.
Want more? Head to our podcast homepage.
- Related: ‘There will be an impact – we can’t avoid that’: Why clubs must brace themselves for year ahead
- Related: How one club saw lockdown as ‘a test of loyalty’ for its members – now it’s time to repay the favour
- Related: Inside the golf club that spent more than £1 million during lockdown
Main photo courtesy of the Golf Club Managers’ Association
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