For my next review let’s look at this Golf Club on Scotland’s East coast south of Edinburgh – it is a course I have played for several years and on this occasion the visit was over 3 days. The fact that I have been here before adds another dimension in terms of experience because I have not only what they say about themselves on the web site but my personal experiences to draw on in terms of my expectations before arrival.
Here is an extract from what they have to say on the well constructed web site – even if the site itself is a little short on content – sometimes less is more….
“More relaxed, more about you, and your enjoyment of the great game of golf. Archerfield is not just about playing golf (although, with golf courses this good it’s a close run thing!), it’s about an attitude of mind. We think it’s our privilege that you have chosen us, not the other way round. We want you to feel at home, bring guests, and of course, play as much golf as you like.”
“From the armchairs to the service, atmosphere to menu, this is a place to kick back and feel truly relaxed. Certainly, it’s a long, long way from stuffy rule-bound Clubhouses. Elegant, but not overpowering, this is where to meet, greet or just lose yourself in the daily papers in your favourite seat in the sun.”
So going in the expectations are quite based on my previous experiences and the brand marketing.
On arrival the whole experience is managed very efficiently clubs are left at the door and transferred by the hotel team down to the pick up point close to the courses, everything is tagged for you and ready to go.
The facilities are all very good and pretty much s advertised but what makes the Clubhouse is the staff, I have as mentioned been here before and a core of the team have been there since I first started visiting, they are smiley, attentive but not overly so and make the effort to do the little things well. Let me cite and exam, we were sat a table in the bar and I ordered a pint of Guinness, I then left the table and wandered out on to the balcony area (the only place you can get a phone reception…probably a good thing!), the waitress who had taken my order rather than leaving it on the table sought em out and delivered the drink to me outside – a tiny thing but it makes a big impact. Staff retention is so key to providing that consistency and to ensure that as new team members come in they are given great examples with which to work. Th team are very much led from the front and by example by the lady Manageress, big tick in terms of bringing the brand to life allowing you to “kick back and feel truly relaxed”. The Club also adopts a very relaxed approach to dress code, smart jeans and trainers are fine – such a contrast to the overly pretentious approach adopted by many clubs that in particular puts off the younger generation so again living the expectation “it’s a long, long way from stuffy rule-bound Clubhouses. Elegant, but not overpowering..”.
There is also a Spa on the site and after three rounds in 48 hours I felt the need for a massage, having not booked in advance I was not expecting to get in and duly found that they were booked up, however the took my number and less than half an hour later called to say they could squeeze me in for 30 minutes – perfect. the actual Spa experience was superb, highly recommended.
So all is well and it sounds like a 10/10 BUT a couple of things let the experience down both to do with the Golf Course not the surrounding experience. Firstly the course whilst i am no expert golfer even I found some of the greens on one course (the Fidra) more akin to putting on my back lawn rather than a Championship golf course – this was even more of a surprise as it had been used for televised Championship play a few weeks earlier – maybe that was the issue – either way the experience was not good and did not meet the images I had seen or my previous experiences. Secondly the human factor – the team that manage the golf courses include a group of young men who sort clubs, buggies and no doubt assorted other roles one of which is manning the ‘halfway house’ small retail facilities at the mid point of the round where refreshments are available. My expectations are the same standard of smiley faces and service that the rest of the Club offers but no instead of smiley faces, simple “how is your round going today” there is pretty much silent service, zero engagement and no proactive conversations which is a real shame. I suspect that this job is the one they really don’t enjoy but that really should not matter it lets down the other members of the team who work so hard to create that positive atmosphere.
So it is with some regret that I have to only award the Archerfield team a 7.5/10 on this occasion, success in experience is about every part working to use the old statement ‘you are only as good as your weakest link’. However this would not stop me recommending the Club to friends and family or indeed you my readers.