Debt-ridden club to lose its clubhouse

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim June 2, 2015 13:53

A Yorkshire golf club that became mired in debt is to lose its clubhouse, which will be converted into a luxury property.

The move is particularly controversial because the clubhouse at Silsden Golf Club was only built thanks to a National Lottery grant of £670,000.


When the proposal was announced last year some stated on social media that the plan was symbolic of the financial problems that many UK golf clubs have got into in the last few years.

Bradford Council has granted permission to turn the clubhouse on the 50-acre 18-hole course into a large single dwelling. The property, which currently consists of male and female changing rooms, bars, a function room, a meeting room and office areas, will become a four-bedroom bungalow including a living room area, a dining room and a kitchen.

An existing semi-circular conservatory on the south elevation will be retained and separated from the bungalow by dry stone walls. That building will be re-fitted with fresh facilities, including a bar, to be used by the club’s 130 members and visitors.

Silsden Golf Club was saved from closure last year when its members agreed to sell off all its assets in a deal which would provide a five-year lease on the course. Part of Silsden’s problems had been that the club contributed £200,000 to the building of the clubhouse in 2001, and this resulted in the club falling into debt, which it had never since been able to come out of.

Golf club secretary Tom Starkie said: “We have the security of a five-year lease, which we’ll discuss extending after an initial three years, and so now we can concentrate on playing.

“This has always been a club which has had a very open and progressive membership policy – we’re not full of colonels and generals and have always kept the fees as low as possible.”


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim June 2, 2015 13:53
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  1. philmac June 6, 08:45

    Bob Braham.
    Private members clubs don’t pay VAT or corporation tax. They do charge the same fees that proprietary clubs do. And they also apparently get massive grants to build facilities. Luckily their members are also liable for all the club’s debts.

    Reply to this comment
    • Bob Braban June 6, 18:35

      I work with a number of clubs in various parts of the country and this is the first I have encountered that received any sort of grant. There have been some modest grants available to clubs that undertake additional public participation commitments but you have to be crazy to sign your life away and accept them. The same applies to small payments from English Nature. When you sign away your life to them you often end up observing dubious restrictions determined by an overpaid child with a clip board who makes frequent visits to count the blades of grass. Nature conservation is no better on courses they restrict than those who have maintained their freedom.

      The objective of those who truly believe in sport, exercise and fitness should be to totally remove VAT and corporation tax from participating activities, not further restrict participation by increasing taxes. That is not to say that those that do enjoy the exemptions should not feel an obligation to do more to bring new players into the game instead of sitting on their hands constantly repeating “There is nothing that can be done”! Sadly that will not happen until management improves and there is no real sign of that happening.

      Bob Braban

      Reply to this comment
  2. Bob Braban June 5, 22:54

    I don’t see where philmacs argument fits into this discussion. In any event, the great majority of club members pay a great deal more per round than the casual visitor to the municipal course. Therein lies one of the problems causing a decline in membership numbers over recent years. It is far less expensive for the casual golfer to pay the occasional green fee than club membership fees so the argument fails on that score alone.

    Philmac should also be very grateful to the club members who don’t pay VAT. Primary school economics will tell him that if the private members’ clubs ceased to exist, municipal and other business oriented facilities would see a massive increase in demand and the resulting scarcity would put golf costs beyond the reach of a lot of people who currently enjoy the sport.

    As far as food and other sundries are concerned, I could name more than a few ordinary clubs where the members go outside to a local cafe after playing, simply because it is less expensive.

    Bob Braban

    Reply to this comment
  3. philmac June 5, 00:32

    Why do people, golfers in particular think they have the right to play a game for next to nothing? Golf is probably the most expensive game /sport to present after polo. Some older people , mainly”members” of private clubs think that the tax payer should provide a haven for them to enjoy food at less than cost luxury facilities and changing rooms with constant hot water for less than the poor sod has to pay to play weekly at a municipal course, where of course 20% VAT is added as an insult. Why should Joe Blogg subsidise Prime Ministers , and high court judges.?

    Reply to this comment
  4. Bob Braban June 3, 22:43

    Perhaps if there had been a few Colonels or Generals the club would not have found itself in such dire financial straights. Colonels and Generals don’t put up the fees but some do have an awful lot of experience of successfully managing very limited resources and dealing with crises. Sadly a lot are not quite as proficient when it comes to playing golf!

    Bob Braban

    Reply to this comment
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