I was on my computer the other day and stumbled across your site by accident. Please let me explain.
About 20 years ago, I went down to my local golf club with my brother, where we were greeted by the then chairman of the club. He looked a little flustered and he said to us, “enjoy your day lads, this could be the last round of golf that you ever play down here”. We were alarmed and asked him what he was talking about, after all, we had been coming down to our club for over 15 years. “property developers are going to knock it all down and build some fancy flats on it for yuppies”, he retorted. We were astounded.
On entering the club house a little bewildered, many of the long term members were in tears, some had been coming to the club for up to 50 years or more. They loved the club, we all did, it was part of our lives, in fact after our families, it was the most important thing in our lives. We were so distraught, that my brother and I did not even have a round of golf that day, we just sloped off home in a state of shock.
It was not long before the local press got hold of the story and realized that these property developers owned another 2 golf clubs down the road. The reality was, that they just wanted to amalgamate the two and make them into one, to make lots of money, they even put planning applications into the council to do just that and to build on our club house too, threatening to kick us out, so that we would have nowhere to go. Something had to be done, these money grabbing speculators were going to ruin hundreds and hundreds of peoples lives, it just wasn`t on.
Our chairman was a wily old fox, he got the plastic buckets out to collect money to create a fighting fund and called it `SAVE THE BUNKER`. the money just poured in. He fought the speculators off and won the day. What a relief. Life was worth living again. Oh how we basked in the glory, the general quality of most of the golfers at the club was pretty poor to say the least in those days, but what the hell, we were saved, our lovely old club was secure for ever.
Life went back to normal and then an eccentric member revealed himself to be rather wealthy, we were astounded, he was absolutely minted, even richer than the chairman (that`s what he thought anyway). Needless to say the two of them formed a bond and they both invested in developing our old club and all of a sudden, we were the place to be. New members arrived, the press were on our doorstep and some individuals actually won some trophies, which was almost unheard of in those days.
The wily old chairman was not happy though, he could see danger ahead. He was worried that this wonderful piece of land could become attractive to others once again in the future, so he got us all to buy a share of the land, worth £100 each, so that we could all protect the club for years to come.
Time passed and then he suddenly announced one day, that the whole club was being sold, lock. stock and barrel to a wealthy foreigner, what a shock. But I`ve got to admit, the new owner came in and transformed the place. We even had solid gold golf balls. What a result, we were the envy of every other golf club in the country, maybe even the world. Fancy members arrived, who kept winning trophy after trophy and our club house was packed to the rafters week after week. Where were they when we were shite, my brother and I would often say.
One day though, we were told that we had only 2 weeks to give back our shares to this new owner, (who had incidentally never actually ever spoken to any of us), for the same money that we had bought them for 20 years earlier. It was all a bit strange. We were mystified, as we were given no reason whatsoever why and were all very suspicious, because it all had to be done so quickly.
Apparently he wanted to knock down our club house, build fancy flats on it and build a new club house for us somewhere else within a 3 mile radius, but that would only be up until 2020, after that it could be anywhere. There was uproar. All the shareholders then found out, that allegedly 250k worth of shares had been purchased by their associates to ensure the `share grab` went through. Fortunately it did not hoodwink all the long serving members, as they had smelt a rat and the plans were defeated massively.
It has to be said that the new owner, has brought our club dreams that we could not have imagined and we are forever indebted to him for that. But he is a business man first and foremost. Should we trust him, who knows. Of course, all the newbies that have suddenly arrived for the good times say yes, after all, most of them are only here for the glory.
A couple of months went by and then the local council suddenly announced, that our existing club house could be redeveloped after all, and they were a little mystified that no planning applications whatsoever had been submitted to them for over 10 years regarding the clubs expansion. But still the owner does not seem to be interested in making our existing club house larger, which is a bit strange. Is it the land that we sit on is worth more if developed we ask. Is it for financial gain, who knows. Maybe only time will tell.
The only 2 possible places that we could be relocated to, were no longer available anyway and in closer inspection, both were always non starters. What a mess. We understand, that with all these extra people now coming to our club, we definitely need to have a bigger home. But why not expand the existing one we ask, why are they so intent on just moving us to somewhere that we don`t want to be. The local council say that our club can be expanded, so surely both parties, should be in dialogue to ascertain once and for all, whether that is possible or not. We have asked our club to do this since October 2011, but still they refuse to respond.
The reason I write this letter, is that 20 years after buying shares to protect our old club house from being knocked down and being transformed into a housing estate, we find ourselves back in exactly the same position once more. Obviously the wily old fox was right, this lovely piece of land that we simply use for entertainment, is worth a lot more to some people, as a block of flats. When I saw your website and read your situation, that you also find yourselves in, I thought wow, what a coincidence, what are the chances of that. So I just had to write.
My brother and I, still go to the club all the time and we, like thousands of others, don`t want to move if we don’t have to. All we ask for, is confirmation that redevelopment is not possible and we will accept that relocation is inevitable. Nobody wants to hold our lovely club back. But with everything that has happened, no planning applications, the illegal shares and the lack of dialogue, we the members need to understand the real motives. After all, that is why old wily fox got us to buy the shares in the 1st place, TO PROTECT OUR CLUB FROM A LAND GRAB.
I hope that our owners come to understand and can find a solution that does not destroy the identity of something that has been around for 108 years, just purely to make a bob or two.
Kind RegardsBen Kates