Financial performances of clubs improving10th October, 2013 by Jenny Yu
Three struggling golf courses have reported a sharp improvement in their financial performances within a few days of each other, in a sign that the golf industry’s recovery could be underway.
One is a closed course that has reopened, another is a closed course that now hopes to reopen and the third is a course that was on the verge of going under but now believes its future has been secured.
North Somerset Council fully closed down the municipal nine-hole venue, Portishead Golf Course, and all its local amenities including even the site’s public toilets, between 2006 and 2009. However, the local authority has now found someone prepared to take the course on and invest in it. He is Rodney Watkins, who runs Golf for All and already operates another course in Bournemouth, and has been given a 25-year lease.
He has spent £40,000 restoring and upgrading the course, and providing an on-site refreshments kiosk, and has now reopened the venue.
He said: “I have spent around £40,000 on bringing the Portishead course up to standard as it was very overgrown. It is an ongoing investment as the course matures. I have taken the greens back to scratch and reseeded them. The reaction has been very positive – but because the course has been closed for so long, we need to get the word out it has reopened.”
Meanwhile, Oadby Golf Course, which closed down last year following huge losses over several years, hopes to reopen after its owner, Leicester Racecourse Holdings, applied to build a £500K floodlit 15-bay driving range at the venue.
Clive Buckle, general manager at the racecourse, said the golf club could now make a profit.
He said: “It was not commercially viable to run the course in its present form.
“We have plans for the site but it all hinges on the driving range. We intend to reopen the course and maybe turn our attention to refurbishing the clubhouse.”
The scheme includes a plan to create two short holes to replace the first and 18th holes.
And Milford Haven Golf Club in Wales, which last year was on the verge of being shut down as it owed debts of £600,000 is now reporting that its finances are far more healthy.
President Chris Davies said that the club had overcome the worst of the situation.
He said: “We had to restructure our finances, the way in which our committee and club operates, and we had to tighten the old belt rather a lot.
“There has been a major turnaround in the club generally, and that is due to a lot of effort from within the club. This year, our centenary year, has been particularly successful, with a number of new events and promotions, and things have developed extremely well.
“We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but for the first time, in a long time, we are seeing very positive moves to establish a sound financial way forward.
“We have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time, and the future of the club is looking very positive.”
Mr Davies said that the improved course and new restaurant facilities at the club were proving to be a commercial success.
He added that in the space of about six to nine months, numbers in the junior section had grown from six to 30 people, while the club’s membership had increased by about 45 since April, bringing numbers up to 250.
He said: “We are achieving perhaps more than expected, and the club is currently not at risk in any form. I would say the future is secure. It’s onwards and upwards now, we have huge optimism about the future.”