Falkirk area golf range is driving towards expansion
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When professional golfer Stewart Craig (53) first came up with the idea to build the Forthview Golf Range in Airth he did not realise it would still be going strong almost three full decades later.
Stewart said: “Teaching golf is now my full-time job and we now have two other professionals teaching here too. We built this place and opened it on August 25, 1995. I’d only been playing a few years and thought about building the range because there was nowhere local to go and practice at the time – the nearest driving range was at Edinburgh Airport.
"We started with 16 standard bays and then in 2000 we added four more bays and a teaching bay. Then in 2018 we added Toptracer technology.”
Toptracer not only follows the path of your ball and gives you all the information you need about how you struck it, it can also digitally transport golfers to some of the world’s greatest golf courses.
"You can play on an exact simulation of St Andrews or Pebble Beach,” said Stewart. “Just by hitting balls at Forthview range. It used to be a place where you would come to practice or learn, but now it can be more of a gaming experience for golfers and non-golfers."
Elderly golfers and those with disabilities – including armed forces veterans – can use the facilities and enjoy their golf without having to walk long distances between shots.
As the range has grown and become even busier, Stewart has also introduced an American Golf store at the premises, where people can have their clubs made to measure for them.
"It’s a one stop shop for golf,” said Stewart. “You have a club made for you right here and then hit some shots with it on the range.”
Forthview was one of the few businesses that survived the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed, since golf, by its very nature, is a solitary game and one where social distancing is easy to achieve without impacting people’s enjoyment of the sport.
The upturn in business has led Stewart to look to once again expand – and add additional attractions.
He said: "We are going through the planning process with Falkirk Council at the moment, looking to add another 10 bays, as well as a cafe bistro. The range is very busy at the moment and we currently sell soft drinks, teas and coffees,
"Now we have the Toptracer technology we notice people – groups and families – want to spent longer on the range. We also have been getting a lot more tourists coming in because of attractions like the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies.”
If the proposed expansion does get planning permission Stewart hopes work can begin later this year.
Stewart and the team, including golf pros David Lee and Palmer Mitchell, will be celebrating the range’s 27th anniversary this week with cake and, of course golf.