End of an era as Giddins moves on

Outgoing Beauport Park Golf Club proprietor Charles Giddins (left) hands over the keys to his successor, Chris Hawes.
Outgoing Beauport Park Golf Club proprietor Charles Giddins (left) hands over the keys to his successor, Chris Hawes.

It’s the end of an era at Beauport Park Golf Course as Charles Giddins has bid farewell to the Battle Road club.

After 23 years as club professional and the last 12 years as the proprietor, Giddins stepped down as managing director last week. The new man at the helm is Chris Hawes.

“I started here in 1994 as a teaching pro and I can’t believe where the 23 years have gone; it’s shot by,” said the 55-year-old Giddins, who lives in Eastbourne.

“The last year has been a bit of a strain and it just seemed the right time. It’s a big responsibility running a golf course. I’m ready to go back to a bit of teaching and playing more pro-ams, more golf. I will still be heavily involved in golf.”

The club owners have given Giddins honorary membership and he will stay on in a very limited capacity as a teaching professional.

“I’ve got a great affection for the place,” continued Giddins. “I really think it could be a really good venue. It needs a bit of TLC and I think Chris will do a wonderful job.”

Giddins wished to thank the many friends he has made and the club members for all their support over the years, and head greenkeeper Eric Green, who he says has done a wonderful job bringing the course on.

His successor, Hawes, has spent around two decades as a projects/site manager working throughout the south east, and six years in Afghanistan working for NATO and the MoD.

“For me it’s a new venture,” said the 47-year-old from St Leonards. “I’m looking more on the business side of things to get things up and running, and put Beauport back on the map.”

Hawes, whose wife Kelly runs the clubhouse at Beauport Park (which now has a marquee stationed on the grass outside it), plans to rebrand the club as Hastings & St Leonards Golf Club with a new club logo.

“We want to get the people of Hastings and St Leonards using it,” he continued. “New members, different age groups, a lot more women and a lot more younger generation. I want to bring the members back and the enjoyment of the game. But it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Hawes’s youngest son played at Beauport Park many years ago and says golf has ‘always been a little bit of a hobby which has taken over my life a bit more’.

“Initially there’s not going to be a lot (of development work) on the course,” he added. “The greenkeepers are staying and we’re looking for small improvements like buggy paths.”

Heavily undulating and very challenging with a premium on accuracy, Beauport Park is a mature parkland course boasting some stunning views over the nearby countryside.

* BEAUPORT Park’s fine run in the Birchwood Motor Group Golf Trophy Inter-Club Handicap Matchplay Championship ended with a 4-1 loss away to Cottesmore in the quarter-finals. Gary Fuller and Kim Baker contributed the only victory, winning their match 4&3.