Previously struggling club now pursuing members’ buyout
A Norfolk golf club that was struggling to pay its rent just five years ago has turned around so much that its members are buying the venue from the Crown Estate.
Thetford Golf Club agreed to a cost-cutting exercise and lease revision in 2012 following difficulties, but since then membership numbers have returned to near maximum levels and income from visitors is up.
Now the club’s committee is considering various options to finance the purchase, including the possibility of offering debentures to members or straightforward loans or mortgages.
The golf club is an exemplar of the changing fortunes of some golf clubs in the past decade.
Club manager Malcolm Grubb said: “It is going to be an exciting year for the club. We have built up funds over the past couple of years which means we can make a down payment and then it will be a matter of making repayments on borrowing rather than paying rent.
“A number of members have already offered to support the venture and our treasurer, Chris White, is drawing up a debenture offer which has already attracted interest.”
Club members gave overwhelming support for the move at a recent EGM and there are hopes the purchase could be concluded by April.
The club has launched a first-year reduced subscription scheme which has boosted applications from new members and it runs a popular flexible membership scheme.
Last year a new roof was put on the clubhouse following the installation of a patio and decking area over the summer, which has transformed the club’s 19th hole. Now players on the 18th often putt out in front of a gallery of onlookers with interest particularly high if they have overshot the target and end up in the remodelled bunker at the back of the green.
House manager Phil Beer has drawn up a varied programme of social events and the club is available to hire for breakfast meetings, lunches or evening events, including weddings, barbecues and private parties.
Teaching professional Stuart Smith and his team are providing tuition and tune-ups for beginners and experienced players with the addition of an indoor swing studio. Custom-fit and gapping sessions are also available.
“Course manager Paul Gould and his team of greenkeepers have done wonders to provide top-notch golfing conditions all the year round, and the greens have been as good this year as they have ever been,” said a club spokesman.
“The sandy soils are free-draining and allow play within minutes of even the heaviest downpour.
In winter there are few courses in the area that match the playability of Thetford. You can play on a wet day and not get caked in mud.”