Whittington Heath’s General Manager has helped steer the club through a traumatic, but exciting, course redesign and new clubhouse build. He tells us about HS2, five new holes, and the future for the club… It was a decade ago that Whittington Heath got the devastating news. HS2 was coming and it would cut right through the middle of their historic course. The club’s very existence was threatened, but members decided to work with HS2 to try and find a solution that would cater for the new high speed rail line, but also secure their future. The redesigned course, with five new holes and an ultra-modern clubhouse, is now open for play. Having faced what HS2 club sub-committee chairman Tony Rundle described as an “existential crisis”, that once uncertain future now looks incredibly bright. At the helm for the last three years has been General Manager Colin White. As Whittington Heath looks ahead with promise, we asked him about keeping members on board with such a transformative project, what’s still to come at the club and course, and how they are coping with the cost-of-living crisis… Congratulations on getting the project over the line. Most clubs won’t be looking at something as huge as a course rebuild or a new clubhouse like Whittington Heath, but some of the themes in redevelopments are similar. Presumably, you’ve had huge support from the membership, so how did you bring them along the journey? It’s about 10 years since it was announced HS2 would be coming through the golf course, and we opened the new holes this spring. The actual building programme spanned three years, which included a new clubhouse, course modifications, rebuilding holes, and new holes being built from scratch, so it’s been a long process.In terms of the members, it has really come down to communication from the management committee, the board, myself, HS2, and all the contractors. We’ve prioritised free flowing information, which has kept them all up to speed about what’s being going on, so they know and appreciate what’s happening on site and why certain work is being done. For a decade long project – and a three-year build process – presumably there was a mix of impatience and excitement to see the project realised? How were you able to keep everyone grounded while everything went on around you? It’s been easier than it could have been and, to be completely honest, the pandemic has been a massive help. With the club being closed for such a long period during the initial lockdowns, members weren’t here, so they couldn’t see what was going on. Without being able to play golf they probably turned off a little bit from the pain of the construction phase. Luckily, construction could continue during lockdown, so we had around eight months of building time without members around. I think when they finally came back on site and we could introduce them to it, there was a sense of, “Wow, look what’s happened while we’ve been...
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