One council takes over the running of a golf course while another hopes to

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 16, 2021 07:44

In perhaps a sign of the resurgent popularity of golf, one local authority has taken over a golf club and another says it hopes to.

It’s been said that as recently as the 1980s municipal golf courses were second only in number to private members’ facilities for golf provision in the UK, but the rise of proprietary venues in the 1990s and a fall in golf participation this century has resulted in many closing down or being handed over to external operators in recent years.

However, at least two local authorities are now prepared to increase their golf portfolios for the first time in years.

Southampton City Council will take over Southampton City Golf Course from April 1, when its contract with current operator Mytime Active comes to an end.

The authority said the effects of the pandemic on Mytime Active’s business “has led to their decision to cease operating the Southampton golf centre”.

The change of management is taking place by mutual agreement, the council said.

The city council said it is anticipated that all current Mytime Active staff members who solely or mainly work at the Southampton course will transfer in their roles over to the employment of the council.

The migration process for existing golfers should also be seamless, the council said.

Cllr Satvir Kaur, cabinet member for culture and homes at the city council, said: “The leisure sector nationally has been significantly affected this past year by the pandemic, and here in Southampton it has sadly resulted in this difficult decision by Mytime Active.

“I would like to reassure Southampton golfers that Southampton City Council remains committed to this much loved municipal course and will be using this opportunity to maximise everything it has to offer and work on longer-term plans.”

Southampton City Golf Course. Image from Facebook

This comes as North Somerset Council has said it will launch a legal bid to take back control of Portishead Golf Course.

A contractor took over the running of the course on a 25 year lease from the council in 2014, but it has been mothballed since 2018 due to a number of issues between the contractor and the local authority.

According to the Bristol Post, two footpaths which cross the course were made official rights of way, which the operator claimed made three holes unusable.

North Somerset Council executive member for assets, Councillor Ashley Cartman said: “We are preparing legal work to take back control of the golf course.

“The plan is then to have it listed as a town green to protect it from future development.

“The golf course is a hugely popular place with local people and we are keen to keep it permanently as an open green space.

“We could then ask the local community what sort of space they wanted it to be and what improvements could be made.”

This comes as, last year, Sefton Council said it would invest heavily in golf, and now offers free golf to anyone under the age of 16.

Not all local authorities are seeing golf as a benefit during the pandemic, however.

Three of Wirral’s four public golf courses – Arrowe Park, Brackenwood and The Warren, could close as Wirral Council is looking for ways of saving money to address a £16.5m shortfall in its budget.

The Liverpool Echo states that the closure of the three venues would save £180,000.

Labour’s Janette Williamson, the council’s leader, said no decisions have been taken on the budget so far and that the council is currently assessing feedback from the public consultation.

Conservative councillor Tom Anderson, who chairs the authority’s tourism and leisure committee, said: “Golf is an integral part of Wirral’s leisure offer. With the Open returning to Wirral in 2023, now more than ever, it is critical to have a comprehensive, affordable golf offer to Wirral residents.

“It is my belief, that given time, our municipal golf courses can increase their offer – bringing more revenue into the council.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 16, 2021 07:44
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3 Comments

  1. Cosford February 17, 12:31

    Interesting to read that some local councils are not only realising the benefirs of golf, but are prepared to even take back responsibility of operating golf facilities for their local residents

    Reply to this comment
  2. Peter February 16, 18:08

    Great to hear !! Courses offer some much to communities and primary markets and those in them !! However, it’s easy to take over a club in good times, community leaders must develop a courageous spirit to survive and thrive through lean years !! Which will return, at some point !!

    Reply to this comment
  3. GOLFNOW February 16, 13:55

    More Positive Signs which is encouraging to see

    Reply to this comment
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