Hollingbury Golf course and The Circle venue – a new beginning
An historic golf course in Brighton is marking a new chapter in its 100 year history.
Hollingbury Golf Course is now under new management after The Circle Brighton Limited, was granted a lease from Brighton & Hove City Council.
Since re-opening in July, the new leaseholders have been working hard to transform the clubhouse and the course into a wonderful new destination and are determined to put Hollingbury Golf and The Circle venue at the heart of the local community.
The 18 hole ex-championship course is situated just north of Brighton, en-route to Ditchling Beacon, tucked away between the Woods of Hollingbury and Burstead, and encompassing the ancient Hillfort.
The new venue will offer a variety of leisure, sporting and social opportunities – ranging from a round of golf, lessons, equipment for sale, yoga classes and osteopathic and physiotherapy treatment to a Sunday roast or wedding celebration.
Former European Tour Pro David Allen has been brought on board to manage the golf course so the company can focus on bringing The Circle to its new home.
David, who has over 20 years of golf management experience, recalled that when he first played at Hollingbury, prior to getting involved with its development, it was clear that the course needed some TLC.
However, even before their lease was due to begin on the 1st April 2020 their plans to improve the course and clubhouse were put on hold by the pandemic and the period of lockdown.
Once golf courses were permitted to re-open and, following guidance set out by golf’s national body The Royal & Ancient (R&A), the Hollingbury Golf Course opened once more to the public on 1 July.
Keeping walkers safe
David’s vision is to provide a community based affordable golf facility: “Our first step was to invest in new equipment, then we added an experienced greenkeeper to our green keeping team and the benefits of this are already beginning to show,” he said.
David has also been looking at how to keep walkers safe by clearly defining the existing footpaths and opening up new pathways to direct walkers away from the dangers of wayward golf balls. The green keeping team has been clearing overgrown footpaths, creating crossing points within existing paths to ensure, where possible, a 2-metre space.
David also plans to increase footpath signage so that the routes that cut across the course to the Hillfort can be seen more easily.
Once this work is completed it will help draw attention to the public footpaths and permissive paths throughout the area for the benefit of walkers while also highlighting to golfers the designated crossing points where extra caution may be required.
A key objective of the R&A is to “optimise the playing quality of the golf course in harmony with the conservation its natural environment under economically sound and socially responsible management” and to this end David has contributed to the funding of an ecological survey of the golf course Hillfort and surrounding areas.
Once the report is published, David aims to work closely with local volunteers, Brighton a& Hove City Council and South Downs National Park to implement recommendations from the report.
Meanwhile, staff from The Circle have been improving the space, equipment and range of services available in the clubhouse. This will the benefit not just golfers but also anyone who wants to take a class, book a therapy session, organise a function, or join them for Sunday lunch.
The kitchen and catering areas have been expanded and all the equipment upgraded or replaced.The layout has also been improved with the emphasis on meeting the highest standards of health, safety and food hygiene.
Health and well-being
Services including Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Massage and Physiotherapy are available from the new refurbished space and there are plans to re-purpose some of the upstairs areas into a new Health and Well-being space.
The new food menu offers more healthy and nutritious options, and a wide selection of drinks is available from the bar including, following recommendations from customers, Sussex beer, Harvey’s, available on tap.
A new sound system and improved lighting will soon be installed in the first floor function room making the space better equipped for functions, classes and events.
Rachel Cameron, Head of Operations at The Circle, said: “Our ambition is to create an inviting environment for everyone to enjoy; golfers, walkers with or without their dogs, Hillfort visitors, or those who just want to sit and have a tea, coffee and a snack while taking in the wonderful views of the South Downs and south coast,” .
“We are looking forward to welcoming everyone from the local community and beyond to their fantastic new venue so why not book your tee time or pop in for tea!”
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