Two of the world’s oldest golf clubs merge amid membership declines

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 13, 2019 12:44

The ninth oldest golf club in the world has merged with another historic club – founded in 1879 – to form a new golf club, in the hope that two struggling venues can cut clubhouse costs and thrive as one new entity.

The merger, involving Royal Montrose Golf Club and Montrose Mercantile Golf, has created a new facility called Royal Montrose Mercantile Golf Club.

Montrose Mercantile Golf’s clubhouse will be sold and the money will be invested into the new facility.

Royal Montrose dates back to 1810 (it was originally called Montrose Golf Club, which changed to Montrose Royal Albert Golf Club following royal patronage in 1845, and then to Royal Montrose Golf Club when it merged with another golf club in 1986). Montrose Mercantile Golf also had a long history – having been founded in 1879.

According to The Courier, golfers have welcomed the creation of a new ‘strengthened and reinvigorated club’, which should save money spent on duplicate facilities and services.

The club’s course is Montrose Golf Links, which has seen golf played on it since 1562.

Rob Lewis, former captain of Montrose Mercantile Golf, said membership had dropped significantly in the last decade, from around 1,000 in 2009 to about 600 in 2017, but the club had lost a further 200 members in just the last two years.

“There is some sadness in me, but there are so many things we can do now,” he added.

“By selling the Mercantile building we can build a cash reserve to upgrade the former Royal Montrose clubhouse.”

Gordon Shepherd, former captain of Royal Montrose Golf Club, said his old club had also had around 400 members, meaning they were hoping for around 800 golfers to join the new organisation.

He said: “This is a progressive step. Instead of struggling to keep two clubhouses functioning we can now concentrate on developing and providing a first class club for the benefit of golfers in Montrose and for visitors to the town.”

Members of both clubs voted in August to merge with around 75 per cent in favour.

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 13, 2019 12:44
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5 Comments

  1. Peter November 7, 14:16

    Saving one is better than losing two ! Older clubs have their own set of problems and issues ! Often, underutilization, obviously aging memberships and competition come to mind ! Demographic changes, local economies and a fear of change all have their effect ! Collaborations, mergers and conversions all present better options than closing ! As communities, demographics and economies change, options exist and more leaders should explore them ! Kudos to these two fine clubs for exploring and finding a creative opportunity to move forward !

    Reply to this comment
    • Pete USA November 14, 13:00

      Why fear change…change is good! Golf is no different than other industries and has to evolve to meet the demands of the new culture. So reduce the ball & course play for a quicker, more afforadable and less frustrating experience.

      We can show you how, by offering a simple, efficient & economical quick-play alternative to attracting more golfers.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Wayne November 7, 18:50

    Good to see this combination. Royal Montrose is one of my favourite links courses. It is a bit off the path to get to but very well worth it. Coastal erosion is impacting the course so get out and support the club. Have some soup in the small and historic clubhouse too.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Craig November 8, 12:26

    One course multiple clubs, most are struggling. Multiple sets of bills, staff, committees. tax, booze licences, heating, light, cleaners etc. This model is now dead

    Reply to this comment
  4. Tim November 8, 12:50

    Very interesting And forward thinking – Looking at the real future of golf in the area not battling until they both fail. Well done – Hopefully a massive success.

    Reply to this comment
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