Chris King has landed the job of head greenkeeper at Dunston Hall, in Norwich, straight from school – but he is certainly the right man for the job.
King, 40, left a second stint as head of grounds at Town Close School – an independent prep school in Norwich – to take up the position at Dunston Hall, part of the Redefine|BDL Hotels portfolio, to make a return to a sport which he felt he was always destined to complete.
He said: “I really enjoyed the variety of the job at Town Close, where I was responsible for all the school sports pitches, the school grounds and woodland. But I always thought I would return to golf one day and when I heard the head greenkeeper position was available at Dunston Hall I knew it was something I had to go for.”
Having left college in 1997, King was determined to find a job in sport and leisure and, while working part-time at a golf club he was given the opportunity to work alongside the greenkeeping team – and that set him on his path.
He said: “I enjoyed it immensely and I knew this was what I wanted to do. I was only on a short-term contract, though, so knew I had to start looking for a trainee position somewhere, even if it meant leaving home – which is what eventually happened.
“I joined Richings Park Golf Club, in Iver, Buckinghamshire, and spent the best part of 10 years there, when I undertook all my greenkeeping qualifications – at Merrist Wood College, Surrey – and gained valuable experience.”
While at Richings Park he started helping out with the pitch at the local cricket club which stimulated an interest in other sports turf maintenance, so he left to join a grounds maintenance company in High Wycombe. Since then he has also worked in the Netherlands before returning ‘home’ to Norfolk to become head of grounds at Town Close School.
King, who was born in Bury St Edmonds and educated in Martham, Norfolk, spent a brief spell in the same head of grounds role at Framlingham College before returning to Town Close in 2014.
He added: “I am tremendously excited by the role at Dunston Hall and believe all the experience I have gained throughout my career will be invaluable to me. As with any golf course, there is much work to be done to not only maintain the course but to look to improve it.
“That’s an exciting challenge and I am fortunate there is already a great team here to support me and I already feel at home.”
Now managed by Redefine|BDL Hotels (RBH), the UK’s leading independent hotel-management company, Dunston Hall’s Elizabethan-style mansion, dating from 1859, has been lovingly restored to all its former glory as a four-star hotel. Built against 150 acres of stunning wooded Norfolk parkland, the setting is just as unique as its history.
The golf course is a 6,275-yard, par-71, USGA-rated layout which contours around the estate, with magnificent parkland fairways dotted with trees and strategically placed bunkers. And, in 2016, Dunston Hall completed a £500,000 expansion of its health club facilities.
The Redefine|BDL Hotels portfolio offers championship-standard courses in unique resort locations including Slaley Hall – voted ‘Best Golf Hotel/Resort in the North of England’ for the third successive year in the 2017 Today’s Golfer Travel Awards and host of 18 European Tour and European Seniors Tour events – Belton Woods, Mottram Hall, and Forest Pines Hotel and Golf Resort.