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September 2002

The Stepaside Golf Centre

The Stepaside Golf Centre nestles into the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, eight miles south of the city centre.

Golfers have the most beautiful backdrop to their practice session, with stunning views out to the Irish Sea.

There are thirty bays with an 18-hole par 3 course on site and another 18 hole pitch and putt just a mile away, Stepaside offers plenty of opportunity for golfers of all standards. The centre is owned by Raymond Roe, who farmed the land prior to building the range, which opened five years ago.

The range is built to high specification with wide, deep bays and a great feeling of space. There are 15 bays either side of the central reception, sweeping gradually around. Plans to extend by five bays on each side are now being considered.

Pitch and putt is a very important part of golf in Ireland. The game has been going for over forty years and is played regularly by lots of people. Pitch and putt holes must be no more than a hundred yards long and only require two clubs ( a pitching wedge and a putter ). The courses vary in quality and style but offer access to golf for a huge number of players.

Everyone from Ireland seems to possess a wonderful short game which may well be down to pitch and putt in their early years.

The next step from pitch and putt is the par 3 course. Stepaside’s own course has holes from 93 yards to 170 yards and allows golfers a wider range of clubs than pitch and putt. Jamestown golf course, which is also run by Raymond Roe, is a par 3 course too.

Raymond Roe explains: “In the summer the courses are very busy and we can cater for a large number of people. The land to the south of Dublin is fairly undulating and there were many smaller farms looking to make better financial returns from their land - pitch and putt courses were an ideal answer.

When we started our range at Stepaside, I looked closely at ranges in the UK and USA and decided what I did and did not like. We built a central reception area where golfers can gather and enjoy soft drinks and snacks. This area allows us to welcome our customers and create a warm atmosphere, which they enjoy returning to.

We have considered having a large golf shop, and may in the future, but initially I did not want to be tied to a retailer for a number of years. Golf Works and McGirks are both very strong retailers in this area and have shops close by. We even host their demo days for a small charge.”

The range structure has been carefully thought out and when GRN visited, it was almost full with golfers of all ages. There are four attached PGA professionals who teach freelance from the centre. PGA professional Gillian Burrell runs the summer junior program at Stepaside: “The Summer Eagles Club is designed to get children of a younger age into the game. For 120 Euros they can attend up to 12 morning sessions ( including balls ) throughout the summer holidays. We take youngsters form the age of five (long before they are welcome at any golf club) and teach them the fundamentals of the game. We also spend a good deal of time on the rules and etiquette and some of the sessions are on the course to give variety. Of course, many children go on holiday in July and August, but most of our children attend at least 7 or 8 of the sessions. These are tomorrow’s golfers and its great fun to see them develop as golfers and individuals.”

And is there anything Raymond would change about his range? “I think we’d all like more customers at the quieter times but one the whole we’re delighted with the way the business is developing. Occasionally we feel a little like crèche for the kids in the school holidays, but I do realise that these will be our customers in the future.”

 

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