Behind the scenes at Norwich's new world-class golf course - where it costs £120 to play
PUBLISHED: 17:57 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:56 17 September 2019
Golfing legend Ian Poulter has played the first round at the new £15m Royal Norwich course and declared it a huge success.
The golfer, nicknamed 'The Postman' because he always delivers, admitted he had never visited Norfolk before - and due to the weather the Ryder Cup hero was late for the launch at Weston Longville.
His private helicopter flight from his home in Haversham, near Milton Keynes, was cancelled forcing him to drive.
Speaking before teeing off he said: "The course looks great, they're making the bunkers nice and perfect, but I hope I won't be spending too much time in them. What makes a great course is the condition, the layout, the bunker positioning, green complexes and the entire visual aspect.
"I didn't see much of Norfolk on my way here as I was just focusing on getting here but I've seen there's a dinosaur park next door and Norwich City had a win at the weekend so you all must be pleased - but I'm an Arsenal fan."
Mr Poulter was speaking at the official opening of the new course, relocated from its Hellesdon base in Drayton High Road where it's been for the past 126 years. However, the move has caused membership to almost triple, increasing from 400 to 1,100 members. Different tiers of membership exist to encourage new people but for non members it will cost £120 for a round - twice as much as some nearby clubs.
The club is aiming for 30% of members to be women, an increase from the current 14%, with no gender-defined tees meaning everyone can play on the same courses.
Mr Poulter himself called for equality in pay between men and women professional golfers, saying: "If the viewing figures are there, it will attract more sponsorship, that would be awesome, we play the same game so there should be equality."
The new course has been hailed a huge achievement, first mooted back in the 1980s but scrapped because of a lack of finance. Talks began again a decade ago and the investment came largely due to the sale of the former course to housebuilder Persimmon. The new course has been re-formed with 250,000 tonnes of earth moved to a designer spec and 14 greenkeepers employed. With the site's trees protected by law, the new course had to be designed around them and to enable the grass to be irrigated and kept in top condition, a reservoir was built capable of holding 10m gallons of water.