JCB has announced a new wave of investment in Staffordshire with plans for a £30 million golf course next to its World HQ to help boost sales and build global awareness of its brand.
The proposals for a spectacular 18-hole, 7,150 yards, Par 72 championship golf course centre on 240 acres of rolling countryside to the south of its Rocester headquarters. When completed in 2018, it is expected that up to 100 people will be employed in groundcare and hospitality roles.
The course will be designed by European Golf Design - the golf course design company of IMG and the European Tour - best known for the 2010 course at Celtic Manor in Wales, host of the 2010 Ryder Cup. It will be built to tour-quality standard and could potentially host a major tour event, attracting competitors and spectators from all over the world.
The plans have been conceived by JCB Chairman Lord Bamford and follow an announcement in early December that JCB will invest £150m to build two new factories in Staffordshire and significantly increase production to meet an anticipated growth in demand for its products.
At the heart of this premier golf development is Woodseat Hall, an 18th Century mansion currently in ruins, but which will have a new lease of life under plans to renovate it as the course clubhouse, complete with a new luxury spa, leisure facility and five-star hotel-style accommodation for visiting JCB guests from across the world.
Lord Bamford said: "JCB is a global manufacturer with a successful track record in growing sales in overseas markets. As part of our plans to increase manufacturing capacity and grow sales, we need to build an even stronger awareness of the JCB brand around the world.
"Golf is a truly global sport and is a perfect fit for JCB as a global manufacturer as we look to develop strong relationships with customers and dealers worldwide. I'm not a golfer myself but I'm excited by the opportunity it presents us in driving our future plans for business growth."
JCB Chief Executive Officer Graeme Macdonald said: "The golf course will be the biggest marketing tool available to JCB in its history, helping grow sales and create jobs. If the course were to host a major tournament, the television coverage would certainly put the JCB brand firmly on the world stage. It would also help to raise the profile of Staffordshire and promote the county as a tourist destination to millions of people around the world."
European Golf Design's course architect for the JCB course, Robin Hiseman, said: "We were asked to create a premier tour-proven golf course to stand shoulder-to- shoulder with the very best contemporary golf course designs in the UK. We are very confident that our design meets this requirement, taking full advantage of a rich landscape that includes deciduous woodland, classic English farmland and historic parkland with many arboretum-standard specimen trees.
"The course design, which is burgeoning with imaginative design concepts, will twist and turn around the natural contours of the site, dipping in and out of the woodlands and involving the existing water features in a range of exciting ways, including the spectacular and unique Par 3 17th hole, which plays onto an existing wooded island in the South Lake.
"We are looking forward to building this JCB course, and as you might expect, JCB machines will be doing all of the work in what will be a 240-acre shop window for its product range."
The new golf course, which is subject to planning consent, will be made available mainly to JCB's network of 770 global dealers. It will be used to drive business growth, helping to build relationships with new customers and strengthen relationships with existing customers. Upon completion, golf days will become a feature of the wider JCB visitor experience, which already includes factory visits, the 'Story of JCB' exhibition and machine demonstrations.