Three struggling golf clubs have their futures secured

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 20, 2015 11:23

Three struggling golf clubs that feared that they would shut down have all been told their futures have been secured thanks to private investment.

The rare good news comes at a time when many golf clubs are struggling.

The three venues are Broome Manor and Highworth golf clubs in Swindon and Blair Atholl Golf Club in Scotland.

Broome Manor and Highworth have been bought by Twigmarket, a company that is chaired by Jeremy Sturgess, who is experienced in running UK golf clubs.

Sturgess said he intends to builds an adventure golf venue, a golf hotel and a golf retail outlet at Broome Manor, and that his company would have acquired more former municipal venues but he feels there is a distortion in the market.

“We are absolutely delighted to acquire Broome Manor and Highworth golf courses, along with a really great team of staff who have transferred to us and will continue to manage the facilities,” he said.

“These are quality golf assets with combined sales of over £1 million, that had fallen on hard times and we are greatly honoured to have been selected to lease them by Swindon Council, who retain the freeholds and who will share in the improving fortunes of the clubs.  Particularly pleasing for me is that this is the first time for several years that a commercial golf operator like ourselves has won a municipal golf course tender bid.

“Having purchased our last course, Trent Park Golf Club in 1992, and despite numerous attempts since, these are the first courses we have been able to acquire for over 22 years because of unfair competition from UK taxpayer subsidised ‘so called’ not for profit groups who now have a stranglehold on the municipal golf sector.”

He added that Broome Manor is Swindon’s flagship golf venue but it “had fallen on hard times due to the general decline in the popularity of golf and was in danger of closing had this deal not gone ahead”.

Meanwhile, Pitlochry Golf has concluded an operating arrangement with Blair Atholl Golf Club that will secure the future of the venue.

pitlochry golf jenny

Pitlochry in Scotland. Image by Flickr user ‘Jenny’

 

Blair Atholl’s falling and ageing membership, plus recession, placed it in financial difficulty and the membership of 110 could no longer sustain a viable future. That led to an approach from secretary Ian Rattray and captain David Morrison to the directors behind the resurgence at nearby Pitlochry Golf Club.

And following a vote of approval from members at both clubs, Pitlochry Golf now operates both Pitlochry and Blair Atholl. The directorial team will assume operational liability at Blair Atholl and also have investment plans for the clubhouse and catering.

Membership will entitle golfers to play and enjoy facilities at both clubs and the deal will create up to four new full-time jobs at Blair Atholl.

Welcoming the deal, David Morrison said: “I think, if we had stayed the way we were for another two or three years, we would have to close the doors forever, which would have been a huge tragedy.

“This has secured the future of the club and I am very excited about it.

“We saw what the guys had done at Pitlochry so we approached them, they were enthusiastic and here we are. I’d love to see the clubhouse packed again like it used to be, for golfers and locals alike because the club is part of the community.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 20, 2015 11:23
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