A double dose of flooding has failed to deter ‘Friendly Flixton’ Golf Club from surging forward on to a higher level of provision indoors and out.
No sooner had the nearby River Mersey breached an eight-foot-high flood barrier to turn the course into “a lake”, recalls Secretary Paul Thornley, than a leaky tap in the men’s bathroom, left their changing area awash. Thankfully, one of Britain’s longest 9-hole courses is back in action, its condition enhanced by the silt left after the club had brought in powerful pumps to remove the Mersey floodwater.
The news is heartening indoors too after Flixton appointed changing room specialists Crown Sports Lockers to transform the old facility. So pleased is the club with its new fit-out that it’s enlisted a member, who’s a joiner, to continue Crown’s décor theme in other areas of the clubhouse.
Billed as ‘an affordable, quality golfing venue’, the 6,500-yd parkland course has been challenging all levels of golfers since 1893 under a continuing programme of improvement by the private member Greater Manchester club, which includes a recent £150,000 investment. Open year-round, ‘Friendly Flixton’ enjoys a busy schedule, staging weekly events on and off the course when Covid lockdowns don’t impact activity. Paul knows as much about the club as anyone – a member for 33 years, he was a captain in 2010, then president in 2019 before taking up his current post as secretary. “I’m following in my father’s footsteps,” he says, “only the second time it’s happened here.”
Taking up the story of the locker room flood, Paul explains: “The oak lockers soaked up the water like a sponge, leaving them in danger of warping. We approached our insurance company and fortunately, they agreed to meet the costs of new facilities.”
Their vision to create a new wave of men’s provision included showers, toilets, bathroom, lighting, lockers and carpeting, with the chair of house Dave Kelly sourcing suppliers that included Crown.
“They seemed more savvy and efficient to us,” Paul says. “I remember Sam Palmer visiting us in what were horrendous, snowy conditions. We liked him from the start and his design and layout knowledge was extensive.
“I asked him where he was staying locally and he said he had to visit a site in Yorkshire that afternoon, before returning to Devon. I’ve travelled to the South-west many times so know how long it can take. To complete the round-trip in a day revealed a real commitment to his work.”
In a project featuring twin-tier light panelled oak veneer golf bag lockers (ASSA Abloy cam locks) with coin-operated holdall storage for visiting golfers, Crown fitted out the room early in 2021, during Covid restrictions, complete with recessed bench seating, open wardrobe hanging spaces and single-station vanity shelf.
Flixton turned in-house to its members to lay light grey, flecked carpeting and upholster the single stack locker tops, matching the walls, and cleanly offset with crisp white LED ceiling lights, installed by Paul, himself a qualified electrician.
“Everything went in during lockdown,” Paul adds, “so members could hardly believe their eyes when they returned. They’re absolutely delighted with the new facility.”
The club has picked up the design trend Crown set in the men’s locker room, Paul explains. “One of our members is a class joiner and once he saw what Crown had installed, he continued in the same style, fitting a vanity unit in the new bathroom from the offcuts, plus mirrors and an oak-panelled foyer to the changing room.”
The marketing push that attracted 40 new lady members to Flixton on a two-year deal will have run its course soon, reports Paul, who is itching to recall Crown to refit the women’s locker room, but he adds: “I cannot justify the cost of new lockers in the ladies changing room for only a handful of members but if those 40 members renew, we’ll be back in touch with Crown.”
And that ‘Friendly Flixton’ tag? Feedback from one happy golfer, posted on the club’s website, is unstinting in its praise. “Super-friendly staff throughout the place . . . brilliant value for money and ideal if you just want a quick 9.”
“Crown couldn’t do enough for us. They offered great service and great aftercare. Just very pleasant people to do business with.”Paul Thornley, Secretary, Flixton Golf Club