Two golf clubs are hoping to downsize from 18 holes to nine

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 4, 2020 17:31

Two golf clubs are currently going through the process of trying to downsize from 18 holes to nine in a bid to secure their futures.

Both are set to capitalise on current market trends – the demand for ‘staycation’ holidays and for housing – by building on the lost holes.

Boston West Golf Course in Lincolnshire is set to downsize from 18 holes to nine, and site up to 300 caravans to replace the lost holes.

The club has been granted planning permission for a ‘major, high-quality tourism destination that will deliver a significant boost to the region’s local economy and tourist sector, while securing the club’s long-term viability and vitality,’ according to a statement.

The application also includes the development of a ‘hub’ building with activity centre, spa, shop, food and beverage facilities, management facilities.

Spokesman Richard Cook said: “From an economic perspective, the scheme is going to help support the growing tourism sector in Lincolnshire and it will also lead to increased visitor spend in Boston.

“This will help to generate new employment opportunities in the local area, which is very timely given the ongoing impacts of Covid-19. The pandemic also means that domestic tourism is likely to become more popular and the development of the caravan park will help Boston cater for this growing ‘staycation’ demand.”

The application site comprises the existing Boston West Golf Course, an 18-hole golf course with a 20-bay driving range, a six-hole academy course, a 24-room hotel and clubhouse, and a restaurant, bar and reception area. In recent years, the golf course has experienced a steady decrease in its membership base.

The planning committee heard that the vision for the site is to deliver a high-quality holiday destination comprised of lodge-style caravans sensitively integrated into the setting and landscape of the existing golf course, creating a unique woodland character. The holiday destination would be supported by the remaining on-site golf facilities, as well as other facilities provided within the ‘hub’ building.

England Golf said it supported the project on the basis that a reinvigorated nine-hole facility would be more viable and attractive.

A second golf club, Widnes Golf Club, also plans to downsize from 18 holes to nine, and build on the former nine holes.

It has submitted a planning application to build 249 homes.

This is a revamped application –  in a report written at the beginning of June, the council’s planning department recommended refusing planning permission for the development, which would also include a reconfigured nine-hole golf course in place of the current 18-hole course.

Planning officers said this would leave Widnes in the “highly unusual” position of not having an 18-hole course, and that “its loss would be a significant loss of golfing provision for the town”.

They added that the golf course had “many different amenity values which would ultimately be compromised by the proposed development” and that the extra houses would cause a “significant and unacceptable negative impact” on roads in the area.

But in its revised proposals, the developer has sought to address these concerns, saying the nine-hole course will be of “better quality” than the existing one.

The proposals state: “There is therefore no loss in sport or recreation facilities, rather, the proposal represents an upgrade and reconfiguration of the existing facilities, which is facilitated by the redevelopment of part of the site for residential purposes.”

The developer has also pointed to the dire financial situation of Widnes Golf Club, saying it expects a deficit of £30,000 by 2022 while the Covid-19 crisis has seen 74 members resign, compounding the club’s problems.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 4, 2020 17:31
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1 Comment

  1. Ashley August 4, 15:56

    Let’s hope the new owners understand the golf market. The steady decrease in membership/footfall undoubtedly was due to a complacent PGA Pro and owners that simply didn’t understand what their product was and where it belonged in the market. I sincerely hope the new team will recognise the importance and potential of their product and use it as a catalyst to actually grow the number of people coming into the game of golf, time will tell. Good Luck

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