Scott Evans one of the owners of Centurion has run a number of top-class golf clubs in his time so it is no surprise that now he has a club of his own, he is making sure it is the very best it can be.
I first played Centurion about 6 months after it opened. The first three holes had just been completed on newly acquired land and were still bedding in. There was a temporary clubhouse, a small wooden building but provided enough to see the potential that could match the owner’s ambitions to deliver a top club to compete against the likes of Wentworth, The Wisley and Queenwood. Memberships sales were very successful, and Centurion very quickly started to get a very good reputation only enhanced by hosting the unique European Tour event the GolfSixes.
Fast forward a few years to a beautiful late summer’s day at the beginning of September when I was very kindly invited to play Centurion by one of their members Dave Bedwood who launched a new marketing agency called Seven Iron in July.
Dave and Andy are new to the world of golf marketing but bring expertise from working with huge brands such as Lexus, Emirates, Samsung, Coca Cola and Unilever.
When I arrived, I saw the wooden hut had been transformed into a magnificent clubhouse beautifully presented both inside and out. I was shown to the member’s area on the first floor and sat on the veranda overlooking the 18th green surrounded by water and with the sun shining I felt like I was in the Mediterranean rather than just outside St Albans.
Dave told me he played off 1 and was keen to take on “The Round with Niall Challenge” so I managed to negotiate 8 shots. We were joined by Andy and Jon Davie from Sounder Golf who I met the previous week. Dave suggested that we hit some balls on the newly lengthened practice range which had been completed just in time for the Aramco Ladies Championship in July and a great addition to the facilities. This was a first for the challenge as Dave is a left-hander like me.
Dave and Andy are new to the golf world but with their expertise working with such big brands they managed to start the agency by recruiting GolfNow and Sky Q creating and producing their TV ads for the next two years. With golf enjoying a huge increase in the number of people playing the game SevenIron are bringing a new set of ideas to the industry, which is exciting, fresh and much needed. Certainly, the adverts for GolfNow have been well received and been successful both from the viewers and the client’s point of view who are seeing more people booking tee times.
Scott not only has put his spin on the architecture of the course but also oversees the maintenance of the course and keeps a close eye on the definition and presentation of the courses which just seems to get better and better with maturity. The first three holes are tree-lined and then from the fourth, the holes open out. Scott an ex-Pro has been instrumental in the design of the course placing the bunkers strategically for each tee box. The greens are tricky but fair and run true and fast with some subtle borrows.
Having run top 100 clubs, Scott understands that it’s the attention to detail that makes the difference and although some of these details are not always seen by members they add to the continued improvement of the club.
The halfway house is well presented, with friendly attentive staff with a great view and catch you after 7th and 9th holes allowing you to line up your sausage sandwich on your first visit in time for your second visit. Money has been spent on the defining walls of the water features and pathways which are in line with the same materials as the clubhouse.
My Challenge match with Dave was as always competitive but an improvement in my driving and the short game allowed me to stay in the game and we were all square when we reached the halfway house.
I took the time whilst eating my sausage sandwich to understand how Dave and Andy work together. Simply put Dave comes up with the ideas and Andy brings them to life and makes them work for the clients. One of the reasons for meeting with them both was to discuss how we might be able to make the blog come to life.
As we played through the back nine, I could sense Dave had some great ideas and Andy went through the type of equipment and manpower that will be required. The beauty with golf is that it can take in so many aspects from the course, travel, food & beverage and of course the characters that are at every club so there is no shortage in content.
Dave holed a great putt on the tricky short 17th for a birdie 2 to go one up but with a shot up the last, I managed to win the 18th with a net birdie and halve the match.
Another thoroughly enjoyable game on a top 100 course, one I think might be underrated by some but with the continued investment and the dedication of Scott, his team and Troon international, Centurion will continue to rise up the rankings in the years to come.
I will be seeing Dave and Andy again and delighted they are in the golf industry. They may not be able to help everyone but those clubs and brands who do engage with them will get a very fresh perspective helping them to obtain, retain and service the new and more traditional golfers who are enjoying this great game.
Until next time