Head to Golf World Stansted to enjoy its new driving range with 28 bays, TopTracer and Powertees technology
Introducing everybody to one of the world's oldest games and making it accessible to the whole family is the aim for the new owners of Golf World Stansted.
And the opening of its impressive new state-of-the-art, fully floodlit two-storey driving range is already proving a real hit.
Friends and business partners Rofu Miah, Sharif Hussain and Abdus Sabur, and their families, bought the near 100-acre complex in September and have made a sizeable investment in the new facility.
It boasts 28 bays and has TopTracer technology, using high-tech cameras to track the ball, and Powertees, in 22 bays, which automatically tee up the ball ready for you.
TopTracer not only provides the serious golfer with a wealth of useful stats and information to improve their game, but allows friends, families and parties to play virtual games, like nearest the pin and longest drive.
You can even play a virtual round on some championship courses and imagine you're on the professional tour. Online booking is highly recommended to avoid disappointment and to avoid queues.
It is all part of a grand plan to make the venue, in Hall Road, Elsenham, a go-to destination for the serious golfer, the novice and everyone in between.
Rofu and his fellow directors have taken over at Golf World Stansted from Colin Pharaoh. Colin and his wife Tracy built up the business over the last 12-and-a-half years and the family is still heavily involved. Their daughter Leanne is still general manager while her siblings Daniel and Emma have also continued to work there.
Rofu said it was important to have that continuity as he and his fellow directors look to continue growing the business and giving people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to enjoy a range of different activities.
"We had various businesses, some of them in retail and in the leisure sector, but not sporting and we were looking for something slightly different," said Rofu.
"We looked at the Topgolf model, but we want to be a different type of business. We think there's a niche for a golf club with driving range facilities that's for everybody.
"There aren't enough facilities where the average person can go and get involved in golf.
"Colin was marketing this place with planning permission for a double-storey driving range so it was more attractive then, rather than having to go into something and start afresh. It was ideal."
Rofu and his fellow directors first got involved at Golf World Stansted in early 2019 and worked with Colin to complete the driving range.
The new facility, which opened with a soft launch at the start of May, features televisions in each bay showing sports channels and players can have food and drinks delivered to them by ordering on their phone via a QR code.
And it is just one of many attractions – as well as a nine-hole course there is a six-hole short course, three-hole academy course, 18-hole 1066-inspired adventure golf and a footgolf course. Head coach and PGA professional Bradley Smith runs the academy and offers lessons.
VIP lounges on the driving range are in the pipeline and other facilities include a café and bar, a gym and health and beauty services while the venue can also host functions, meetings and weddings.
Taking over the business during a global pandemic has obviously presented challenges. Rofu and his team traded for roughly two months before the country went into the second lockdown in November, before a short-lived respite and the third lockdown which began to ease at the end of March.
"Since we've owned it we've been closed half the time, so we've felt the financial pressures of course," said Rofu, who has implemented a full range of measures to make the site Covid-safe. "We've had to dig deep and believe in our vision. Now that we're open we're hoping we'll be open permanently."
Diversity is key for the success of the business, says Rofu, with outdoor golf alone not enough.
"Colin started this vision by diversifying the site with the adventure golf, footgolf, driving range, but to survive winters even that's still not enough," he said.
"This is where the new driving range comes in, a bit like the final piece of the puzzle."
Not only is Golf World Stansted looking to entertain everyone, it is also set to provide new jobs as the country rebuilds from the coronavirus crisis.
The team of around 20 is set to grow following the opening of the two-storey driving range, with roles in all departments.
"We're looking to add five, six or seven people in different areas," said general manager Leanne Pharaoh.
"With the new driving range we need more balls collecting because there are more people hitting them; it's getting busier and busier on food so we need more chefs; we need someone to manage all the bookings on the driving range and we need more bar staff now that we're running more food and drink out there."
Go to www.golfworldstansted.co.uk to find out more about the new driving range and everything else it has to offer.