Four more golf clubs close for good

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham December 15, 2015 12:06

Any optimism that the golf industry was in a state of recovery has been shaken over the news that at least four major golf clubs have all closed down for good or are about to.

Frome Golf Club in Somerset, Canford Magna Golf Club in Dorset, Blairbeth Golf Club in Scotland and Western Park Golf Club in Leicestershire have all stopped trading or will do in 2016.

canford magna

Frome Golf Club has closed its doors following the retirement of its owners.

The site is reverting to farmland because owner Rick Bird could not find a buyer.

He said: “This was a great little club with a great big heart having had some wonderful results over the years with many members winning county, regional and national competitions. Congratulations to all those involved in making Frome successful over its life. This tough course, will be missed by all members without doubt.”


Statement on Frome Golf Club’s website

The joint owners of Canford Magna Golf Club have written to the club’s 900 members to tell them the club will permanently close next March.

Landowners Bill Riddle and RL Harding wrote: “The dedication and loyalty shown to us by our members and staff has always been a special characteristic of this club and we therefore send this letter with great sadness and regret.”

They said the 350 acre site which has three courses and opened in 1994, had continued to make a loss in recent years, blamed adverse weather and flooding of the course, a reduction in members and a declining golf market.

“Our staff are aware of the cost cutting in recent years despite us trying our very best not to reduce our standards, but increased overhead costs have also contributed.

“We view all our members as friends, and this is therefore an extremely difficult route but we wanted to give you as much notice and support as possible.”

They assured members they would work with other local golf clubs to try to secure them a favourable deal.

“We know that you have built strong friendships with some of the staff, who are now facing the risk of possible redundancy,” and the letter said staff were being offered support over the remaining months.

It ended: “Your loyalty is very much valued and we sincerely apologise for the disappointment that this announcement may cause.”

Blairbeth Golf Club in Scotland has also permanently shut down – after 105 years in existence.

The club had debts in excess of £135,000 and had lost a significant number of members in recent years.

The move comes just weeks after an EGM voted to cut the course to nine holes in a desperate attempt to save money on fuel costs.

Captain Davie McKay, who partly blamed a more stringent drink driving law in Scotland that came in at the end of 2014, said: “There were lots and lots of tears shed from men you would not think had a tear in them. One older member, I could hardly look him in the eye.

“The last eight to 10 years, the club has been unsteady. I don’t think anyone could have worked any harder than myself and my vice-captain, Craig Crawford.

“Before the drink driving law came into force, the older members and some of the other guys would stay for a few pints and sometimes they’d be here so long, they’d just decide to stay and get a taxi home.

“We noticed within the first month that takings were massively down and that’s not just alcohol, because if people are using the bar for drinks then they’re more likely to hang about and order some food as well.

“Towards the end, barely anyone was staying for even one pint because they obviously didn’t want to run the risk of being caught. After events and nice days during the summer, our clubhouse was sitting empty. That was sad to see.”

One of the bar staff, Mandy Allum, 42, described the news was “heart-breaking.”

“It’s just horrible, I just kept thinking ‘it’s not going to shut, it will never shut’.

“When I first started in here it was so busy, but it’s just gone downhill.”

And another 105-year-old golf course, Western Park, will close. The municipal course costs its local council £123,000 a year.

Leicester City Council said: “We considered factors such as the club membership, facilities and future financial viability in reaching the decision to close Western Park and invest in Humberstone Heights to safeguard its future.

“It was clear that for either of the city council-run golf courses to have a future, it would have to be at the expense of the other.”

Meanwhile, Cormac Flannery, the general manager of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, one of Ireland’s leading golf clubs, has said “our membership is trending downward at an alarming rate.”

He added: “In the past nine years, annual income derived from membership has dropped by €600,000 [£435,000]— but even in the past two years, since we took over as a members’ club, our membership income has dropped by €270,000 [£195,000] — 22 percent.”



Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham December 15, 2015 12:06
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  1. jon December 18, 07:08

    In the case of Blairbeith GC have the members been responsible for the £135,000 now the course has closed? I very much doubt they will, I bet there would have been a large queue of members if the club closed with £135,000 to its name to receive their proceeds.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ian Muir April 16, 10:55

      It’s disgraceful that the Blairbeth captain, Davie McKay, is blaming the drink drive laws for the closure of the golf club; so he was happy to condone drunk driving before. Staggering in every sense of the word. There are too many courses in and around Glasgow anyway so losing Blairbeth is no loss to golf.

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