A new name, exciting plans and same idyllic setting at Kingfishers, Cretingham
Kingfishers, Cretingham, has been under new ownership for eight months. MIKE BACON went to to see how things are progressing at the golf club.
New owners, new name and exciting times ahead are on the menu at Kingfishers.
Formerly Cretingham Golf Club, situated in beautiful Suffolk woodland near Framlingham, Matthew and Claire Thacker, who bought the club back in December are investing not just their money, but their time, aspirations, thoughts and ideas, to make Kingfishers more than just a golf club.
And from what I witnessed, they are not only on their way to making it happen, they will make it happen.
As with most of this summer, it was a hot one when I caught up with Matthew and Claire to see how life was treating them. Their smiles suggested things were going along nicely.
The pair moved from Yorkshire to take up the reins at the Cretingham-based course, Claire from Yorkshire, Matthew, closer to home at Wortham, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.
Eight months in after their big purchase and much has been done.
“It’s going really well,” said Claire.
“We have found some fantastic people to help us get to where we are now since we have been here. It’s a work in progress and members and visitors alike appreciate it.
“There has been a lot of work on the clubhouse, we have fantastic chefs, everything is made in-house, including bread, our crisps. We have meals throughout the day and a la carte dining.
“The lodges have been redeveloped and are ideal for families and golfers.
“We have created a children’s play area out the back called ‘The Pen’. People with children, like myself, will know what I mean! It’s zoned in a special way so as not disrupt our golfing community. Families and general diners sitting in lovely places, but having their own space.”
And the golf course? Is there investment in that too.
“Just a pound or two!,” laughed Claire.
“There is equal investment going in across the whole site.
“We have employed additional greenkeepers to get us where we need to be. The course is very beautiful, but it needs to be brought up to the standard of which the rest of the site is being developed to.”
The standard of the course is what will drive more golfing visitors to Kingfishers, as well as the clubhouse, menu and lodges, as Claire and Matthew know only too well.
And with an increase of membership to more than 300 and counting, things are going in the right direction.
Rob Pritchard is the popular professional at the club and has been so for nine years.
His continuity at Kingfishers was seen as crucial to Claire and Matthew, who have appointed Rob, director of golf, when they purchased the club.
“It’s really nice to see the changes and improvements on and off the course, but also the attitudes of members and visitors alike,” he said.
An emphasis on getting more youngsters involved in golf remains top of the list of priorities of most foward-thinking golf establishments and Kingfishers is no different, while the ladies section is thriving and beginner taster days have gone down well.
The course is certainly beautiful.
I played a few holes with Rob before we sat down to chat and although, like most golf courses during this sun-baked summer, the fairways are hard and fast, the idyllic surroundings are evident.
Those surroundings and natural habitat was the reason the golf club formerly known as Cretingham, is now called Kingfishers.
“One of the first things me and Matthew saw when we came to look at the club as we drove up the drive were a couple of kingfishers on the course,” Claire added.
“And from a branding point of view that suited us perfectly.
“Kingfishers are subtle, but very beautiful, secretive. Very much like Cretingham, a hidden gem.”
A hidden gem indeed.
One that Claire and Matthew hope golfers all over the county and beyond will seek out in the years ahead.