Two Kent golf clubs close down

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire April 23, 2018 13:16

Two golf clubs in Kent have closed down in the space of a few days of each other – and just a few weeks after another venue in the county closed.

Cranbrook Golf Club, formerly Hemsted Forest Golf Club, which Bing Crosby was once rumoured to be interested in buying, sent an email to its members in March stating that the facility was about to close.

The club had been making a loss for a number of years and made the decision when a survey revealed that more than a third of its membership of just over 250 people was unlikely to renew in April. As a proprietary club, it also blamed the VAT distortion in the industry between these clubs and private members’ clubs.

“At the beginning of April 2016 we relocated our clubhouse operation,” stated the email. “This move corrected the financial losses accruing each year and allowed us to charge arguably the best value membership fees in the south east.

“We hoped that introducing affordable annual golf membership would negate the yearly membership dropouts. This would then gradually progress to an increase in membership numbers and the additional revenue would provide the capital investment for the purchase of new machinery and course improvements, making the club financially sustainable.

“Unfortunately the results of our recent membership survey asking members whether they would be rejoining the club for the year ahead highlighted that 35 per cent of all current members would not be renewing their membership on April 1.

“For a number of years we have been hoping that the government would correct the VAT distortion that exists between clubs like ourselves and member owned clubs.

“To explain this, member owned Lamberhurst Golf Club charge £1,250 for their annual membership and because they are not liable for VAT payments they receive the full £1,250 whereas we charge £599 for our annual membership and because we are liable for the VAT payment we receive only £499. This VAT distortion also continues where all member owned golf clubs receive the full amount from green fee and society revenues whereas we receive only 80 per cent of all such income.

“Following recent communications it has now become evident that the government has no intention of changing the VAT golf payment system. A combination of the new membership year dropouts and having to pay 20 per cent of all our revenues to the government makes our club financially unviable.

“Therefore it is with great reluctance and sadness that after operating our club for 30 years we have to inform you that Cranbrook Golf Club will cease trading and close [on March 31, 2018].”

The news comes as municipal Deangate Ridge Golf Club has also closed down.

Medway Council confirmed the decision in mid April. The facility made a loss of more than £1.5 million over the last seven years and had a membership of fewer than 300 people.

And at the end of 2017 Broke Hill Golf Club in Kent closed down amid rumours that it was to become a housing development.

Kent golf course set to become housing development

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire April 23, 2018 13:16
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