Meet the manager: ‘We don’t have the Open, but we’re a great course’

North Foreland has traditionally lived in the shadows of illustrious neighbours. But, as general manager Chris Dowrick explains, that’s all changing They don’t have the Open or the exclusivity of Royal St George’s. They don’t have the history of Royal Cinque Ports or Prince’s. “No one drives past our doorstep,” Chris Dowrick remembers he told the interview panel at North Foreland. Pointing out that problem might have been a risky strategy for a man looking to get the general manager’s job. But the honesty clearly struck a chord with the club found on the eastern tip of Kent. Since Dowrick arrived last July, the battle has been joined to transform the image of a course that has lived in the shadows of giants. Though you might need a reason to come to North Foreland, it’s not a place easily forgotten once found. For those in the know, it’s always been highly regarded – blessed by some breath-taking scenery. Think greens that run to the edge of white cliffs, a tee that stands in the reflection of an ancient fort and a memorable finish, and you get the drift. The Main Course is renowned for its fast-running fairways and firm putting surfaces, while the Northcliffe Course gives beginners a great setting from which to start out and allows the more experienced to hone their short games on holes ranging from 50 to 140 yards. “We’re in with the big boys and we've got to market ourselves in a different way,” Dowrick says. “We don't have the history with the opens but we're a great middle ground. And I think we represent real value for money. “The course is playable all year round. We've got stunning views. We're really lucky to be on the clifftops looking down and we have some beautiful views of the sea.” The opportunity to the spread the word arrives in July when the Claret Jug pitches up at Royal St George’s, found just 13 miles down the coast. Postponed last year because of coronavirus, the event could turn into a massive celebration of golf in a nation finally getting to grips with the pandemic. The whole region is crossing its fingers it can welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors and, for Dowrick, it’s a huge chance to let everyone in on the North Foreland secret. And so the club have been hard at work. A five-year plan to remodel bunkers was fast-tracked, following the rerouting of the 13th hole last year. This time, four new bunkers and 100 square metres of green have been added to the par 4 14th – the feature a staggered trio of traps that blend into a line off the tee. The shapers were also busy on the 15th, a hole that sits right in front of the clubhouse, to fill in old bunkers, add new ones and increase the size and depth of others. “We put in some cross bunkering on the 14th, making it more challenging for the lower handicapper,...
This is member only content

Please LOGIN to read the full article.

Not a member? Please click here to join today.

More from Features