You probably know American Golf for its retail stores, full to the brim with all the gear you need to look the part on the golf course even if your short game isn’t firing at the moment. However, there is more to American Golf than just the stores and we went up to Rossendale to see what there is to do at their recently refurbished and extended golf centre.
This is part of the American Golf strategy to make their centres appeal to the whole family and to promote wider participation in the sport, not just from members of private golf clubs but also independent golfers.
This drive to encourage wider participation in golf extends to the golf course at High Legh Park in Cheshire, which they recently acquired in the first of what they plan to be many such deals. Apparently, it hasn’t been all plain sailing (or straight driving?), the sport of golf has been one of the few winners through the Pandemic as it offered a chance to get away in the fresh air from all the restrictions we have all had to put up with.
It has been a while since either of us pulled our golf clubs out of the wardrobe so we were expecting their centre at Rossendale to be a traditional driving range, which doesn’t really get the pulses racing after the first 20 of the big bucket of balls have soared, dribbled or hooked their way off the tee. However, in line with their new strategy, American Golf are looking to turn a driving range into a much more interesting day out for the whole family, as we were to find out.
First of all, we need to talk about the range, itself. The 22 covered bays all feature Top Tracer technology which enables you to compete against your friends or in competitions locally or regionally. You can also see where your shots would get you on some of the major courses around the world. It is clever stuff and should make practising your swing and technique not only more productive but also a lot more enjoyable.
You can also order food and drink to be brought to your bay, which is again a great improvement on the coffee machine and chocolate bar vending machine most often found in old school driving ranges. The centre is keen to support golfers of all types and abilities and has a junior academy up and running and there are PGA qualified professionals on hand if you want to improve your game.
The aim is to make the centre a destination in its own right and not only for dedicated golfers. To this end, they are currently adding an extensive adventure golf course for the members of the family who don’t want to try the range. They are also developing a VIP bay in the range, with comfortable seating, food and drink for groups of friends to whack some balls and generally have an enjoyable group activity. This would be ideal for stag or hen parties, special occasions or even, dare I suggest, date night? There is a also a putting green for that all important practice or just a friendly competition against the family or friends.
The centre also features Il Corso, a sports lounge, with breakfasts, Italian and American specialities for lunch, dinner or a snack and a full range of drinks. We sampled the pizza and a beetroot burger, which my vegetarian colleague thoroughly enjoyed. Beware, the pizzas are big! They are planning to offer entertainment in the lounge, with comedy nights, music nights and other events.
The lounge would also be ideal for groups or families who have enjoyed some of the other facilities and has an outdoor seating area for those sunny days. There is also a massive TV screen showing the sport of the day.
The views out over the Lancashire hills are spectacular, even on a day with low cloud when we visited. There are a range of special offers on either food and drink options or combining dining with driving on the range.
Of course, there is a fully stocked, sizeable American Golf retail outlet on site, offering all types of golfing equipment and the top brands.
This is a gloriously picturesque place to visit and we both came away impressed with the way in which it is being developed to be so much more than a traditional driving range. If you want to check it out, they are running family event days with face painting, arts and crafts, balloon modelling, music and entertainment, as well as golf challenges on 21st and 28th August and 4th September between 12 and 4pm and it is well worth going down to see what they have to offer.