Council urged to save Derbyshire golf course following Woosnam’s interest

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 27, 2021 08:48

A Harry Colt designed golf course in Derbyshire that closed at the end of last year is facing calls to reopen following interest in the venue from Ian Woosnam.

This comes just after a municipal Sussex golf club was saved, and less than two months after a Scottish municipal venue also closed last year, but is now set to reopen. In fact, if the Derbyshire venue did reopen, it wouldn’t be the first in the county to as a result of the pandemic, as Pewit Golf Course remained closed for all of 2020, but reopened this June.

Now, campaigners for Allestree Park Golf Course say that former world number one Ian Woosnam has declared an interest in setting up an academy at the venue, and this would save Derby City Council £32,000 per year in maintenance costs.

The golf course was closed down at the end of 2020 by Derby City Council, which said that a proposal to offer the operation of the course to expressions of interest had not brought forward any credible bidders, including a late bid in 2020, also “deemed to be unviable”.

Ian Woosnam said: “I am really excited at the prospect of reviving this wonderful golf course, created by one of the greatest designers of all time [Harry Colt], to provide affordable quality golf for the residents of Derby and beyond.”

Colleague Tony Minshall, managing director of RM Estates, and a former European Tour player, said: “Our company policy is to make each of our courses a course for all.

“Ian actively wants young people to take up the game and try to emulate what he has achieved.”

Some councillors have said they think the council is making the wrong decision.

Ruth Skelton said: “I’m not happy about the prospect of losing Allestree Golf Course forever. The true value of the course has not been respected by some. This decision has proved I believe to be a strategic error of judgement.

“Since the Save Allestree Golf Course campaign group have put articles into specialist golf media, serious interest has been generated from organisations keen to run the golf course.

“It beggars belief there are four organisations ready to put in bids but the council are just not interested.”

Councillor Alan Graves added: “The golf course could be an absolutely brilliant facility if somebody comes in and invests.”

At a recent council meeting a motion calling on the council to ask for Marketing Derby to identify suitable organisations interested in running the golf course was carried – meaning the venue’s future will again be considered at a future council cabinet meeting.

But one councillor in favour of keeping the golf course closed said that “hundreds more people” had been enjoying the park since the golf course closed, and they instead supported a “biodiversity climate change agenda”.

Another councillor, Jerry Pearce, said the Ian Woosnam Golf Academy had not presented a “business case” to the cabinet.

He said: “When people refer to a business case I would expect PowerPoint presentations, vast sways of paperwork to go through – I was sent an email of 252 words and that included two or three things that they didn’t really need to put in it. That is not a business case.”

Allestree Park Golf Course. Image from Facebook

Andy Picken, leader of the Save Allestree Golf Course campaign, said: “Ian Woosnam is a global golfing superstar, who is prepared to make Derby the first city in the Midlands to offer free golf for all under 18s.

“Having one of his golf academies in Derby would have a positive impact on tourism with golfers visiting from far and wide to play this wonderful historic course.”

He added that more than 27,500 people signed a pandemic e-petition against the course being closed but claims that this was ignored by the city council.

The course was first opened in 1930 and was home to Derbyshire Golf Club. It closed during the war and re-opened as Allestree Park Golf Club in 1948.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 27, 2021 08:48
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  1. Andrew July 27, 17:24

    Recent Council meeting voted to have the sale processed overturned recommending Marketting Derby review a number of bidders who have also expressed an interest in running the venue. Cabinet meeting led by minority leadership group will review this vote in August. Hopeful that they will see the many benefits this offers to the city and we move forward together.

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  2. John Gurr July 27, 16:55

    Golf is a game of character, and is extremely helpful in young people’s development, Ian knows this , good on him I wish him all the best! The opposition wants PowerPoint look at Ian’s heart!

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