Roseberry Grange Golf Club is saved

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 12, 2011 15:32

A municipal golf club that doubles up as the only local pub for two villages, which was on the verge of being closed down earlier this year, has had its future secured after the local council decided to effectively rent it out to its members.

Roseberry Grange in Durham, which features an 18-hole course plus a driving range and clubhouse that require “considerable investment” according to Durham County Council – which needs to save £124m over the next four years – has operated at a loss in recent years due to a reduction in members.

However, when the council announced plans to close the club, local residents protested, particularly because the last-remaining pub that served the local, neighbouring villages of Grange Villa and West Pelton had been bulldozed last year, meaning that the golf club acted as the sole ‘hub’ for the community.

Due to the protests, officials from the council’s sports and leisure department met with three members of the club’s committee and a volunteer chartered accountant, and together they agreed a deal which has seen the council transfer ownership of the club to its members for the next 35 years.

As part of the deal, the club, now called Roseberry Grange Community Golf Club, will pay a peppercorn rent for the first five years, giving it time to turn around its financial situation, and any profits made will be ploughed back into the club.

Ray McDermott (pictured), the club’s secretary since it opened in May 1987, described the deal as an “absolute massive step”.

“I was extremely upset, having been a member of the golf club from day one,” he said. “Now all the hard works starts, mind. It was lovely just to think that this now is ours.”

He added that he is confident that the club will make a profit again.

“It is the difference between being a member of a club and owning it,” he said.

“If it’s in the blood and they realise now it’s theirs, it’s their course, it’s their clubhouse, it’s not difficult to get them motivated to go and do work on the course or in the clubhouse. A lot of the maintenance work is now being done for free across the club and its grounds, including decorating, joinery, plumbing and grass cutting.”

“Everybody at Roseberry Grange is giving it a really good go,” said the ladies’ handicap secretary Margaret Thindle. “I was definitely concerned that our club would not in existence to compete in events, but I am over the moon that we are.

“It is a real community effort. People who are retired are turning their hand to plastering and painting if they can, everybody who can help is doing their bit.”

Councillor Bob Young, cabinet member for leisure, added: “Difficult times mean difficult decisions, but this is a happy ending that I hope will see many more golfers in the swing for years to come.”

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 12, 2011 15:32
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