Connect with us


Golf to the fore as new season gets underway



Upgrades to the course are part of a £15 million overhaul of the venue which was bought out of administration in December by Dubai-based Dutco Group. Supported by investment and asset management group Align Partners, Dutco has unveiled a string of senior appointments including that of Christopher McQueen as the new head of golf.

A professional golfer, Mr McQueen comes to the post with extensive experience having previously worked at Gleddoch Resort and Spa and Trump Turnberry Resort. He will oversee extensive improvement works with support from newly-appointed head greenkeeper Andrew Eckford, who brings 13 years of experience in greenkeeping from Cameron House in Loch Lomond.

The Herald: Andrew Eckford (left) and Christopher McQueenAndrew Eckford (left) and Christopher McQueen (Image: Mar Hall)

As part of the upgrade programme, all bunkers have been repaired with a total sand replacement while the greens have undergone an aeration process and will be continuously top-dressed throughout the year along with the fairways. Other improvements include a new automated irrigation system, a fertilization and disease control process to protect the grounds, and the purchase of 12 new golf buggies.

David Webster, operations director at Align Partners, reckons the first fruit of these improvements will begin to emerge in about six weeks.

“The business was in administration, so as with any business in administration there’s been a lack of investment over a number of years [and that includes] the golf course,” he said. “That’s from the number of members they had on the greenkeeping team, to the equipment that they had, to the facilities that they had – there were no golf buggies – that kind of thing.

“There was even no retail shop. Golfers were being asked to check in at the spa leisure club. So we are putting back in a proper golf reception on that side of it.

“I would say on the whole about 10% of the [£15m] investment will go on the golf course, and if we take the clubhouse and everything else, probably about 20% will go on the clubhouse and golf-related equipment and the like.”

READ MORE: Tartan Pro Tour signs mental coaching deal with Underpin

Elsewhere at the resort, executive head chef Tony Tapia has joined the hotel with a wealth of experience having worked in several 3 AA Rosette restaurants, and alongside industry icons Rick Stein and Michel Roux Jr. He is joined by new head pastry chef Louise Campbell, who has worked in Scotland for 30 years refining her skills in collaboration with industry experts including executive chef Michael Mizzen at Hilton Glasgow when it was the city’s first five-star hotel.

Award-winning Alan McDougall has been appointed head concierge. He is currently chairman of the Society of The Golden Keys of Great Britain & The Commonwealth.

A new dedicated wedding and events team has been created that will be led by commercial manager Fiona Gallagher who has been promoted internally. Mar Hall has also invested in a new ultra-fast WiFi network, providing connectivity for events and individual guest needs.

READ MORE: One of golf’s ‘most famous pubs’ re-opens for start of new season

Meanwhile, renovation works have begun on the Marquee with views over the River Clyde and rolling Old Kilpatrick hills. This makeover will transform the event space and deliver a new kitchen to cater for up to 300 guests.

Mr Webster said the investment in both staff and venue will elevate the resort to a five-star experience as work continues over the next year to re-position Mar Hall as a renowned luxury destination in Scotland. As that process unfolds, it is expected that the prices charged for its services will rise to levels similar to those at places such as Cameron House, Turnberry and Gleneagles.

Mr Webster added that it will take some time to build up that reputation, during which Mar Hall will continue to trade at a discount to those sorts of prices, “but hopefully not for too long”.

Continue Reading