Pressure for new changing provision from lady members at Ogbourne Downs Golf Club has paid off handsomely.
”There was an ever-increasing need to upgrade the ladies locker room to modern standards,” recalls house committee member Mike Ford. “The men’s changing room had been upgraded some years ago, so the ladies felt that it was time for theirs to come up to par.
“The club’s executive committee agreed – the steel lockers and décor had a real 60s look – and we decided to take on the project. A work schedulw was put in place with Crown Sports Lockers and the whole process ran like clockwork – two weeks from start to finish.”
One of the finest downland courses in Wiltshire, Ogbourne enjoys year-round play across its 18 holes thanks to fast-draining chalky soil. “We never have a temporary tee or green,” is one of the club’s proud claims.”
Designed by five times Open Championship winner J H Taylor, the course is set amidst 200 acres of glorious country, stretching between Swindon and Marlborough in an Area of Outstanding Beauty – “the perfect backdrop for memorable golf”, Mike adds. Skylarks, yellowhammers, red kites, hares and badgers all add to the interest of a round at Ogbourne.
Now over a century old, course and club are enjoying an upswing in popularity “Ogbourne is praised for its friendly welcome and great service,” Mike continues. “After tough economic times, it was time to reinvest in our facilities.”
Formerly a facilities manager at a large Swindon firm, Mike, now retired, knows his way round project management. “This type of upgrade was meat and drink to me,” he says, “as specifying and fitting facilities was part and parcel of my old day job.”
Mike sourced locker suppliers on the Internet and spotted several likely contenders for the work. “I accessed Crown’s website, viewed some of their projects and was very well impressed,” Mike explains. After the committee gave the go-ahead, Mike invited selected suppliers to tender costed schemes after issuing the club’s requirements and an image of the existing ladies locker room.
They presented their plans to the dedicated committee that had been formed, which included 2018 Lady Captain Shirley Sparrow and 2019’s, Margaret Tyack.
“Crown certainly came across as a professional company and project manager Sam Palmer’s proposals hit the mark,” Mike adds. “He brought samples of locker doors for us to view to give us a clear idea of the quality of the installation we could expect.
Positioned within the 3m x 15m rectangular room are a mix of oak-finished golf bag and holdall lockers to meet demand for storing modern equipment and personal belongings, complemented with 8m of bench seating, four vanity stations, two hanging spaces large enough to take up to 50 dresses or suits, five noticeboards and framed mirror. Crown positioned a bank of lockers across the room for added privacy.
Traditional locks match the suite of keys in the men’s changing room. “A master key opens every locker in both areas,” Mike explains, adding: “We decided against £1 coin lockers and it is proposed that visitors requiring allocated lockers are given a key in return for a £5 deposit.”
“Crown’s fitting team were superb,” says Mike. “Prompt, courteous and efficient, they completed the work in just three days. The morning after they’d finished, we fitted blue carpet to the floor and benches to add to the new crisp white radiators and proximity-controlled lighting.”
Ogbourne’s lady members have been quick to take up locker rentals, Mike reports. “The costs are the same for ladies or men – £40 a year for a golf bag locker and £20 annually for a holdall size.”
The project was “all about improving things for the ladies”, and within that brief, Crown were delighted to add a little extra to the locker room.
“An old drying room, used to store odds and sods, was cleared and they designed and fitted a cupboard with bookcase so the ladies could run a book exchange. “We spoke to Sam about our requirements and he reassured us by saying: `The fitters will accommodate you`, and they certainly did although it was tricky to install.” The project has been greeted with thanks and appreciation by the ladies. “Many compliments were received about the new room,” says Mike. “Now the men are envious as the ladies lockers are 50mm wider than those in their changing room, which were fitted nearly 20 years ago – a measure of how golf bags and trolleys have grown in size over that time.”
The project was part-funded from events the men’s and ladies captains run annually. “About £7,000 had been raised for club projects – £6,000 went into the ladies’ locker room refurbishment, which totalled some £20,000 including £2,000 for the carpeting.” A progressive club like Ogbourne Downs seldom stands still. The club concurrently invested in solar roof-mounted panels to power the clubhouse and ancillary buildings. Generating up to 160KWh on a sunny day, the clean energy helps keep the clubhouse and greenkeepers’ buildings self-sufficient, while also helping to power up the electric buggies. “We’ve amassed 16MWh in the six months since the system was installed,” Mike adds. Reinvesting in the club is very much work in progress, he explains. “There are still plenty of projects to complete, like upgrading the bar, a new entrance to the clubhouse and a fresh patio terraced area.”
Everything’s moving the right direction now, Mike adds reassuringly. “With our strong social side, we are aiming to boost facilities for players before and after their rounds. “We are achieving our aim of increasing members and we’ll be running more events next year when one of the ladies becomes County Captain. The new changing room will prove a big draw I’m sure.
“When I joined Ogbourne we numbered 700 members. That fell away for some time but we have reversed the slide and membership stands at 525 and is rising steadily. This is a club on the up.”
“I recommend Crown Sports Lockers 100%. Their professionalism in producing drawings to achieve what we wanted was unmatched and the locker quality is excellent. The fitting team worked precisely to the time schedule, meeting all our target dates.”
Mike Ford, Executive Committee Member, Ogbourne Down Golf Club