Tony Jacklin’s 11-hole club is saved
A loss-making Lincolnshire golf club opened by Tony Jacklin, which uniquely had 11 holes, has had its future secured after its local council surveyed its voters.
Kingsway Golf Course, like many municipal clubs, has suffered in the last few years, with usage dropping from 23,942 people in 2005-6 to just 8,604 in the last year. It now requires £36,000 of public funding each year just to break even.
One of its biggest problems was that a decision was made a few years ago to convert it from a nine-hole course into an 11-hole venue. This also meant removing its practice facility. However, it has now reverted back to a nine-hole course and offers a ‘pitch and putt’ venue instead of the extra two holes.
North Lincolnshire Council had been looking for alternative uses for the site, but decided to consult with local residents first.
The results of that exercise were, said a spokeswoman for the council, that the local electorate has ‘clearly stated that they want the Kingsway Golf Course to remain as a sporting venue.’ This opinion was made even though the facility needs at least £150,000 of investment, according to the council.
Liz Redfern, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, added: “Now we must be imaginative about how we secure funding and consider all of the options available to improve the course and bring the facilities up-to-date.”
Gerald Pearce, manager of nearby Holme Hall Golf Club in Scunthorpe, said the move was positive news.
“It is a good facility for beginners or first-time golfers,” he said.
“It is good that the council listens to people and particularly good in this case that it is a golf facility we are talking about.
“It is nice that the people who matter here have had their voices heard.”
George Haynes, who oversaw the project to build the course which was opened in 1971, said the course has not been maintained well in recent years.
He said: “When the course was built, it was nine holes, with a practice area in the middle.”
“Then the decision was made to get rid of the practice area and add two extra holes in.
“This then made it impossible for people to be able to play a round of 18 holes and it also got rid of the practice area.”
Tony Jacklin himself said that it was essential to keep up maintenance at the club.
“Since I opened the Kingsway course, the condition might not have been kept up. If it gets shabby or rough around the edges, it becomes hard for people to support any improvements,” he said.
“People will move away from helping if it is not in a good condition. If it is being underused, you have to face reality.”
The club becomes at least the fifth British venue in the last few weeks to be saved after being in danger of closing down, and at least the 11th this year. Of the other 10, nine have been municipal venues.