From The Vault: Bob Martin’s Golf Practice Centre
Bob Martin’s Golf Practice Centre, by Jeffrey Reed
As Published By BUSINESS LONDON MAGAZINE
Bob Martin’s name is synonymous with golf in southwestern Ontario, thanks to the busy William Street retail store bearing his name. Now Martin wants his handle to be associated with the finest golf practice facility on the planet.
Bob Martin’s Golf Practice Centre is under construction on 20 acres of land, off Wharncliffe Road South at Wonderland Road South. Ewart and Ed McLaughlin of McLaughlin Brothers, a Tillsonburg-based construction and warehousing company, own the land and are developing the centre along with partner Martin, who designed the facility.
Initial construction cost minus the land is $300,000, to be split between Martin and the McLaughlin brothers. They’ll also share a 50-50 split of profits, once the centre opens in June 2005.
“I’ve been on driving ranges since I was 15,” says Martin. “I’ve been in Europe, California, Florida – all over the globe. I’d like to think that the public will decide that this will be the finest practice facility anywhere.”
Martin knows golf. The former Sunningdale Golf & Country Club assistant pro was the first managing professional at East Park Golf Gardens, opened in 1963. Martin operated his pro shop at East Park during the golf seasons until 1977, when he took up permanent residence at the cozy William Street headquarters. He sold Bob Martin’s Golf and Fashions to Andy Marshall and Darren Allison in 2002.
Always an entrepreneur, Martin was once part-owner of the twin golf domes in Oakville, now known as Oakville Sports Center. He partners with local golf pro Ron Lampman to offer instructional tips and trick shot exhibitions. Martin also lends his name to two junior golf schools, one he and Lampman host at River Valley Golf & Country Club near St. Marys, another run by local pro Ken Foran at Forest City National Golf Club.
The camp at Forest City National will move to Martin’s new centre in 2005. Martin had operated a driving range in partnership with Nick Spivak on land adjacent to Wally World, until the Spivak family sold the Wonderland Road South property to Southside Construction in 2003.
A wet spring has delayed development of Martin’s new centre, but it hasn’t dampened Martin’s spirits. He remains driven to create a first-class practice and teaching area, slated to include a three-storey tee deck, and 10 heated tee bays, both of which will be unique to London. Says Martin of the heated bays, “The minute the weather hits 8 C degrees in March, golfers want to see the ball fly outdoors.”
A 700-foot tee line, with seven target greens ranging from 50 yards to 275 yards, and a fairway measuring 50-yards wide will provide realistic practice time. Other amenities include a separate teaching area for local pros, a 50-yard pitching area, and a picnic area. Future plans call for miniature motorized vehicles and mini golf – part of a family theme park which would change the park’s name to, Bob Martin’s Family Golf Practice Centre.
Says Martin, “I feel proud when I travel out of town, and even the non-golfer knows my name.”
>Bob Martin’s Golf Practice Centre, a practice facility on 20 acres of land off Wharncliffe Road South at Wonderland Road South, is scheduled to open in early 2005.
>Local golf personality and clinician, Bob Martin, has designed the $300,000 facility, while his partners, Ewart and Ed McLaughlin of Tillsonburg, are building the centre.
>Ten heated tee bays and a three-tier deck will make this facility unique, while future plans include a family fun park with miniature motor vehicles and miniature golf.