Hole lot of trouble for struggling golf clubs

Closed gates at Allerthorpe Park

Closed gates at Allerthorpe Park

Published in Sport York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy sports editor

more York area golf clubs face closure according to key officials, in the wake of the demise of Allerthorpe Park Golf Club.

Allerthorpe Park GC was placed into liquidation recently as clubs across York and North Yorkshire battled not only against the ravages of a depressed economy but also a summer and winter where the weather has severely blighted vital income.

Gary Pearce, the general manager of Fulford GC, York’s most successful club in terms of status, heritage and core membership, described Allerthorpe’s demise as “sad”, but added how he believed there may yet be more casualties across the county.

“I would not be surprised to see one or two more and there’s whispers across Yorkshire about clubs fighting off administration. It’s been a pretty poor year – half weather-related and the other factor being economy-related. There’s a lot of problems in the golf industry.”

The biggest issue for Fulford was the effects of a rain-deluged summer with Pearce saying the downpours had turned what was forecast as “a fantastic year” for business into “a normal year”.

“We actually had very little change to our usual years to be honest,” said Pearce.

“But it could have been so much better for us after several big days were wiped out by the weather. And every weekend there always seemed to be even more rain.”

Fortunately, Fulford’s membership is one of the biggest of the myriad of clubs in North Yorkshire and so when many clubs were hit by the wash-out summer, the Heslington-based club were able to post a “normal” operating year.

But Pearce feared for other less stable clubs, declaring how he felt there were too many for the money and players now available.

Said Pearce: “Supply is outstripping demand, so some of the smaller clubs are going to struggle. They are going to face difficult times as there is a lack of equilibrium in the industry at the moment.”

It was a view echoed by Mark Winterburn, the head professional at Forest Park GC.

He said: “I don’t think it will be too long before there might be a few other clubs heading the same way.

“I think there will be some clubs who won’t be able to carry on the way things are going.

“Since a lot of clubs have done away with joining fees it’s so easy for golfers to look around and move from one club to another if one doesn’t suit.”

Winterburn said he had never known a period of wretched weather as suffered over the last seven months, but added how he did not expect Allerthorpe Park GC to have been troubled so badly.

“It’s such a shame because it’s a well-kept, lovely course and has a great catchment area, so it was a surprise to hear Allerthorpe had gone into adminstration,” said Winterburn, buoyed by how his own Forest Park club always benefited by seldom being closed by ill weather.

Forest Park’s strength was also attributable to it being a 27-hole course, insisted the head pro.

“With a great driving range and clubhouse, the fact we have 27 holes is a major selling point and attraction,” he declared.

• A TOTAL of 42 members competed in KP GC’s Murphy’s stableford competition.

The winner was Deryck Dobson with a score of 48 points, while Chris Stark posted twos on both the fourth and 17th holes yet failed to make the top ten.

The leading ten: 1 D Dobson 48, 2 A Cox 47, 3 N Williamson 44, 4 T Loten 43, 5 R Hollingsworth 42, 6 M McDonald 42, 7 M Screeton 41, 8 R Ford 41, 9 G Pudsey, 10 B Lowery 36.

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