North East construction firm starts work on golf club
A North East construction company has started work on improving one of the region’s premier golf courses after snapping it up from administrators earlier this month.
Family firm Hall Construction, based at Rushyford in County Durham, bought the troubled Woodham Golf and Country Club in Newton Aycliffe after it went into administration last November.
Now its new owners are aiming to get the course and clubhouse back to “tip top” condition ready to re-open on August 1.
Originally designed by the highly-respected J Hamilton Stutt, a founding member of The British Association of Golf Course Architects, Woodham enjoyed a reputation as one of the North-East’s premier courses when it first opened in 1981.
Its previous owners, Irish firm Washington Developments, won planning permission last year for a £31m hotel and housing development on the site, but failed to find the cash to fund it, and estate agents Savills started marketing the course last November on behalf of administrators.
Work has started on redeveloping the clubhouse, including new external paving and internal decorating, while the course itself needs some TLC.
The club’s professional golfer Ernie Wilson, who’s in charge of the course, says Woodham could get back to being one of the best in the region.
He said: “It has been closed for seven months from the end of last October, and the owners want the attention-to-detail to be as near perfect as possible.
“We have to cut all the rough back and making the greens as good as we can possibly get them.
“And we also have to look at drainage issues, getting the ponds and streams cleaned out so everything is absolutely tip-top for when it re-opens.
“The drainage is an issue. We’ve had a wet spring this year and there still scars in the evidence out there, but we’re going to spend a lot of time and energy in trying to solve that problem.
“There are various courses around, with top-notch five star establishments in County Durham and further afield, but with some investment this course could be as good, if not better than any of them.”
Hall Construction is based just a few hundred yards away from the golf club and employs more than 300 people all over the UK.
The company built the Darlington Arena – then the George Reynolds Arena – in 2003 and has built sports stadiums up and down the country.
But Hall has no immediate plans to take up planning permission for the golf club’s new hotel and housing development.
Director Neville Hall said: “We just want to get the course up and running and the clubhouse open.
“The planning permission that is already in place is something we may look at in a year or two, but it’s not in our immediate plans.
“We want to get Woodham Golf Club back to its best, and run as a golf club. There are no plans to flatten it or develop it.
“We’re a local family firm. We’re Aycliffe born and bred and we know how much sport means to the people of the town.
“Woodham once had a reputation as one of the best golf courses in the North-East – and we want to get that reputation back.”