Local authorities relinquish more golf clubs
More local authorities are relinquishing control of the golf courses they own.
Council-owned municipal golf clubs played a major role in the golf make-up of the United Kingdom in the 1970s and 1980s, but a rise in new golf clubs in the 1990s followed by budgetary restraints on local authorities in recent years has meant that many have closed down or been handed over to a new authority.
Bradley Park Golf Club in Yorkshire is to be handed over to a charitable trust after nearly 37 years of being owned and run by Kirklees Council.
On April 1, Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) will assume control of the venue.
A spokesman for the council said: “KAL’s vision is to get more people more active, more often. We are dedicated to increasing the number of people taking part in sport, active recreation and wider physical activity through responding to the needs of the local community and providing a dynamic and excellent value-for-money service.”
The club’s manager, Parnell Reilly, has welcomed the takeover.
He said: “I feel it is the way forward now. KAL has a massive database and they are used to running sports complexes.
“They know how to use all the marketing opportunities to drive things forward. I don’t have the resources to do that, we just have a small database of people who use the shop.”
There had been rumours that the golf course would be converted into housing, but John Fletcher, Kirklees’ head of parks and open spaces, told The Huddersfield Daily Examiner: “There will be no fundamental change to the complex and customers.
“The complex is as safe as any, given its profitability and reputation as the best municipal facility in the north of England. There is no truth to these rumours at all.
“A development plan covering the course and clubhouse will be drawn up within the first 24 months of operation.”
Meanwhile, Tamworth Borough Council has announced that Tamworth Golf Club will close next year.
The club, which has 230 members and about 200 other visitors, is running at an estimated £100,000 loss per year and will be subsidised to the tune of £142,000 in 2014.
It has a particular problem in attracting visitors during winter – on some days the club brings in less than £40 of income.
Leader of the council, Danny Cook, said: “We have thrown as much money at it as we can, but it hasn’t worked and that breaks my heart.
“I know of no other subsidy where an individual is subsidised so much.
“This council, in the current economic climate, with national austerity and 40 per cent of our budget already cut, cannot continue to run a golf course at such a loss. It’s impossible.
“I know this will be very unpopular, I know it’s going to be difficult and I know there are going to be changes ahead and we need to solve these together, but 77,000 people should simply not pay for 400 people to play golf.”
A report found that the club needs about £2.3 million of improvements to become commercially viable. A spokesman for the council said it would only invest that amount if the half the course was sold, but it felt that such a project would be ‘too risky’ as a nine-hole venue might not attract golfers.
It is thought that part of the course will now be converted into housing and part of the site will be turned into accessible parkland.
Councillor Steve Claymore added: “This is not a decision we wanted to take, we have put everything we possibly could into the golf course in the last year to make it work, but without more people playing at the course, we just can’t support it.
“How can we justify keeping it open when it is losing £100,000? We – like all other councils – are facing huge budget cuts, and the golf course is simply something we cannot afford to keep.”