Club plans to reduce course from 18 holes to 12

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 30, 2024 11:35

A Somerset golf club has reportedly lost members after it announced plans to reduce its course from 18 holes to 12, and build other forms of entertainment in the space created.

360 Maple, which owns Farrington Park Golf Club, has said it wants to construct padel tennis and pickleball courts, a children’s play park, an outdoor gym and a maintenance hub at the facility, adding that this will secure the club’s future.

According to reports, some members have said they will cancel their memberships as a result of the proposal which will ‘decimate’ the existing course, while 360 Maple has insisted that the plans are key to the business’s future.

One member said: “When news broke of the impending closure a special meeting was convened and more than 110 senior members were in attendance to voice their concerns.

“A show of hands confirmed that few will support this poorly thought-out plan. Over 95 percent of current senior members have already either joined or submitted membership applications to other local clubs, many of which have now reached maximum capacity.”

Tom Mackenzie, who is designing the redevelopment, stated a 12-hole course “offers quicker, more relaxed and family-friendly golf for those who want it” and offers a different golfing experience, however. He added: “This move to 12 holes is not intended to be a golfing revolution, but it is an important moment in the evolution of the game.

“It is accepted and anticipated that some golfers will find this concept hard to accept, but are confident that many will enjoy what will be offered. That is world-class, family-friendly golf that can be played quickly, which is hardly revolutionary.”

Farrington Park Golf Club. Image from Facebook

The wider plans show upgrades to the driving range, a family putting course with LED lights for evening games, eco-cabins and farmstead accommodations, indoor and outdoor padel tennis and pickleball courts and a children’s play park. Other planned features include an outdoor gym, a new maintenance hub to centralise operational and administration functions and new greenkeeper facilities based at the hub.

The club said the course will remain 18 holes until this June, when it will initially reduce to 14 holes. The new 12-hole venue is expected to open in autumn 2025.

A spokesperson for 360 Maple said: “Keeping things as they are at Farrington Park is not an option. Without investment it would not be able to continue, not least because the golf course irrigation system is redundant and the drainage system is in need of urgent upgrade.

“360 Maple are proposing a significant investment to make Farrington Park more inclusive and family-friendly by reinvigorating the game of golf and providing new sport, leisure and hospitality facilities to appeal to people of all ages. These will include pickleball and padel tennis, an outdoor gym and eco cabins for guests to stay on site.

“This will be a 12 hole course which is an evolution of the game.

“Whilst we understand that some golfers will find this a novel concept, we are confident that many more people will enjoy what will be offered. The reconfigured golf course also allows for sustainable course management methods to be introduced, with large areas returned to nature to improve biodiversity.

“With the significant investment of the scale we are proposing at Farrington Park, it is impossible to avoid some disruption. However we are fully committed to doing our very best for Farrington Park, the wider community and for the long-term sustainable future for the game of golf.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 30, 2024 11:35
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12 Comments

  1. CJG February 13, 11:28

    This is a trend that could continue, perhaps its only way many municipal courses can survive. Add more formats, 9 hole double tee, 9 hole pitch & putt, smart range and themed putting greens Inc crazy golf. All ages and abilities.

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  2. KC February 4, 12:18

    I’m not surprised – you join a golf club to play golf – there are plenty of clubs where you can join for a full golf club and swimming/squash/tennis etc if that’s what your after. I would have thought it would be just green fee players who would be interested in this – not members.

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  3. Philippe February 1, 11:01

    Very interesting ! Please follow this course within 3 and 4 years to see the evolution.
    As more and more players want to play less than 18 holes (for plenty reasons…lack of time…) is it time to make new courses ?
    In France one course Le Vaudreuil has made three 6 holes courses

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  4. Lowe January 31, 02:39

    Interesting … Pickleball is something coming over from the states and is growing exponentially at the moment so possibly a smart move for the future and the idea of a family centred facility is often a winner so long term it sounds like there is potential however if the plans require the funding from current memberships in order to make it work, it is unlikely that this will hit the mark with the traditional members that are likely at the club. This could be sad news for the ‘club’ itself however all those other clubs will benefit from the growth of members moving in leaving room for the new club to grow as required with the desired demographic.
    If the new club wants a membership base that is able to compete locally in any way then they will need to have a course that is able to be rated and completed as 18 holes. This needs to be put in place if they wish for anything other than a casual green fee player moving forwards.

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  5. Cosmic Golf January 31, 00:00

    Hate to be blunt but the sooner the golf world wakes up and see’s the opportunity right in front of them the better. Simple, Simple, Simple Solution add SmartTarget and you have no more financial issues the range will be THE TOP REVENUE GENERATOR AT THE FACILITY. It will pay for everything. This particular venue has an awesome range??? Could easily do over 2M a year!

    Plus this course has based on google earth over 10 acres of land right by the clubhouse for pickle ball – which is awesome BTW. This city group has obviously not explored their options – this looks like a great place – what are they thinking. Guess they are not!!!!

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  6. MPreston January 30, 18:26

    This is the equivalent of reducing a MLB baseball
    game to 3 innings IMO. I understand the need and some peoples desire to call 12 holes ideal duration, but the purists will likely strongly reject this type of move

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  7. RedTeeTiger January 30, 18:03

    Will they be able to play in local matches against other clubs?

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  8. Tillson January 30, 16:11

    The news will be met with sadness and anger for many, however this will provide casual golfers a better experience and help strengthen other clubs in the area. There is still a shortage of courses offering a progressive experience and I hope this proves to be successful and will pave the way for other similar venues to diversify and expand their product offering

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  9. Peter January 30, 16:05

    Knowledge is power ! Know what your members want, desire and will support. Also know what’s missing, needed in your local community, what the community will support. Traditionalists need 18 holes. What’s your value proposition ? Who are you, who do you want to be, as a business ?,

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    • Bryan January 31, 12:19

      Same company doing the same thing at Teign Valley in Devon.

      Thought I’d found my forever course when I joined last year, sad that I’ll be looking elsewhere for a new course.

      Reply to this comment
      • Smith February 6, 12:29

        I am a current member at Farrington Park and we have been completely screwed over by the new owners. Kept in the dark about plans until it was too late and presented the details with no questions taken at all by the arrogant and rude people from Maple 360. Luckily I now have membership at another local course but I will not be receiving any reimbursement from Farrington even though from April the current 27 holes available to play drops to 18. 11 of those par 3s. This is nowhere close to what I payed for.

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        • Mike February 21, 00:26

          I am a member of Farrington but like 90% of current members, I shall be leaving. The 12 hole theory is nonsense, if you want to play less than 18 leave after 9 or 13.
          The club posted a profit of £245k last financial year.
          360 and it’s backers are creating a leisure facility and the reduction of 6 holes on the championship course and the scrapping of the 9 hole par 3 course is just to make room for other sports facilities and over 50 accommodation units.
          If you want to find a large site for a big holiday/recreation facility, a golf club is a cheap way of acquiring it and this is what has happened to Farrington Park.

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