Golf course that averages eight paying golfers a day to close

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 1, 2022 11:15

A Derbyshire golf club that took over a year to reopen following the first Covid lockdown is to be permanently closed down.

Council-owned Pewit Golf Course closed for the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020 but failed to reopen until one year ago today – June 1, 2021. Since then it claims the course has averaged just eight paying golfers per day playing on it, although a club spokesman says nobody checks to see if the golfers paying have actually paid.

Other spokespeople have said the course has been poorly maintained and membership has been too cheap.

Now, Erewash Borough Council has announced plans to permanently close the 96-year-old venue and turn it into a nature reserve.

In council reports, officers detail that the facility lost more than £43,000 in the nine months from June 2021 to February this year.

A council report looks for approval to permanently close the golf course site, which it has owned since 1921, and as a golf course since 1926, and redevelop it as a nature reserve. It said that there had been 2,204 logged attendances at the golf course between June last year and February 2022, at an average of just over eight people per day.

The authority, citing statistics from Parkwood Leisure Holdings, which runs the facility on behalf of the council, says: “The data shows that golf attendance is consistently low, even during the better summer months.” It says the total income from Pewit between June last year and February 2022 was £7,894 – an average of £29 per day over the nine-month period.

However, the estimated cost of running and maintaining the course, including a reduced grounds maintenance regime, for those nine months was £51,708 – more than six times its income. This means it would need to increase income by more than six times to break even on the cost of running and maintaining it.

Officers wrote in a report on the issue: “The golf course was uneconomic pre-Covid-19 and, despite the efforts made, post-pandemic this situation is worsening with golf members and casual users declining. The scale of the financial shortfall is such that income levels would need to increase by manyfold in order just to break even.

“The running costs of the course are expected to rise significantly in the coming years due to increases in the national living wage, fuel costs and wider inflationary pressures.” The council has offered Parkwood a £40,000 per year reduction in the money it pays it to run its leisure centres if the site were to be permanently closed.

This comes at a time when many venues have seen record participation and increased profits.

Pewit Golf Course. Image from Facebook

Officers say this would save the council approximately £280,000 in the remaining seven years of the contract. The council says it would partner with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to protect and enhance the site as a nature reserve, if it was to cease life as a golf course.

A spokesperson for the club said: “I personally think it would be a tragedy if the course was to close. We understand the recommendation is to close the golf course for financial reasons. The council has explained how it is allegedly making a loss. But since the course reopened from June 1 last year there are people who are supposed to book online to play the course but there is no check as to whether people have paid or not.

“So therefore, there are some people who are just turning up at the golf course, seeing there is nobody there (at the entrance) to manage it, take cash and so on and then just play for nothing. As a club we are very disappointed. We have been actively trying to ask people on the course if they’ve paid, which isn’t an easy job, and we’ve helped with the maintenance of the course by putting the flags out and dealing with the bunkers.

“Our club has been on the course since 1929. It’s nine holes but there are 18 different tees. This in my view is the same scenario as the Allestree Golf Course closure in Derby. The city council said it was making a loss and here Erewash Borough Council is saying the same thing.

“I understand there’s going to be an online petition – we’re trying to keep the course open. It gives older people exercise and mental wellbeing – but the council is saying the same benefits can be made by walking. They (the council) seem to have an answer for everything. We think it is an excellent community facility – lots of young people start their golfing careers at Pewit. It’s a great facility for young and old.“

A letter written by golf club captain Colin Brodie, to the borough council suggests that Parkwood should increase the cost of a monthly membership to bring in more revenue. He says the current £12.08 monthly membership for people aged 60-plus “while exceptional value” could be raised “within reason” and not see a drop-off in members.

Mr Brodie wrote: “The condition and promotion of Pewit Course has been poor for a considerable number of years. Historically under council maintenance the course was in exceptional condition, but has been allowed to decline over a number of years. Any agreement of a reduced grounds maintenance regime since reopening has been counterproductive as it has further reduced the condition of the course and therefore reduced its repeat visitors.

“The Pewit Golf Course is a unique community facility within the Ilkeston town area which gives and offers mind and wellbeing benefits as well as sporting exercise to all. It also makes it affordable to the less well off. Pewit Golf Course is already a green space area with wildlife and insect life throughout.”

Announcing the proposed closure of the golf course, one councillor said: “We, of course, recognise the history of the site as a golf course but we have to review and look at its sustainability and consider the additional cost to our taxpayers across the whole borough. It is with this in mind that we review this site, a significant site that could be changed from a financially difficult area to something that could be a family friendly nature reserve for people of all ages to enjoy.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir June 1, 2022 11:15
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  1. JD June 9, 11:35

    Sounds like it has been deliberately mismanaged and run down as they have hidden agendas not dissimilar to Lewisham and Beckenham Place Park!

    Reply to this comment
  2. TK June 2, 10:18

    If that’s a representation of the Greens. I am not surprised. Guarantee the poor greenkeeper have no budget and local authority have pulled the plug due to there incompetence in budgetary control. Next stop #HouseBuilding. Such a shame

    Reply to this comment
  3. James June 2, 09:34

    These decision sounds to me one of discrimination against the golfing community. The golf course has been poorly managed over a number of years so a case can be made to close it. The councillors comments bare the case for discrimination as they are intimating that a golf course cant be a place for families or all different ages. There are too many golf haters out there that still think golf is an elitist sport and they base this on their ignorance of the game and its all round benefits to peoples good health and health to a community.

    Reply to this comment
  4. AntonioGC June 2, 03:45

    That’s the main reason why people do not understand between manage a golf club or a business. First case if it’s not well dressed financially the consequence it’s highlighted at this article, while if it’s managed like a business have big opportunities to grow.

    Reply to this comment
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