A bright future is being predicted at one of Edinburgh’s top golf clubs once it reopens following the coronavirus closure after members responded positively to it running into financial difficulties. Prestonfield Golf Club, which is celebrating its centenary, had been considering a proposal to sell off part of its course to be turned into a retirement village due to a situation over a loan and losses.
That proposition has now been rejected by members of the club – in the heart of the capital with views of Arthur’s Seat. And a levy on members has so far raised over £50,000.
Graeme Ballantyne, Prestonfield’s marketing convener, said: “We’ve had a superb response from members following our AGM in January.
“Our overdraft will be wiped out within a week as subscriptions due are paid. Last week we were only £5,500 overdrawn.
“A terrific result considering the Covid-19 problems,” added Ballantyne, who rejoined the club’s council in March
Shortly before the coronavirus lockdown led to golf courses closing across the UK for the first time since the Second World War, the plan to buy land from the club for a luxury retirement complex was revealed.
Tabled by Inspired Villages, the offer involved the first, second and 18th holes, as well as the clubhouse, a separate cottage house and the car park.
The plan included a new clubhouse to be built elsewhere on the land, with the course itself re-designed to provide three new holes.
On that proposal, Ballantyne said: “A recent EGM was held electronically and achieved the highest levels of participation ever as over 72 per cent of members voted.
“Over 90 per cent voted in favour of the proposals that included rejecting selling any of the course to a retirement village.
“We will look to redevelop a parcel of land at Peffermill, but that is longer term.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the positivity around the club. Members have been fantastic in the way they have demonstrated a ‘can do’ attitude. We have terrific volunteers supporting the council and the passion so many members have for the club just shines through.
“I’m really looking forward to the future and very hopeful that, when we return to playing golf, both members and visitors will thoroughly enjoy playing at Prestonfield again. I love the course and, with such friendly members, I think we will have a bright future to look forward to.”
After Edinburgh Leisure closed municipal courses in the city, Prestonfield was planning to continue offering free golf until the end of March only to see that curtailed when the lockdown restrictions were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 23 March.
“We will continue to offer access to our local community,” added Ballantyne, who has been a member of the club since 2009.
“As the health and well-being offer was curtailed, we will run that for a few weeks when we return, if restrictions allow it.
“Also, we are planning both a celebration and thank you during July for NHS and care staff. They will enjoy a free weekday round of golf, subject to availability, as a thank you for their great work during the Covid-19 crisis and as a celebration of 75 years of the NHS.”
In a bid to entice new members, the club has come up with special centenary offers which are available until April 2021.
A crowdfunding appeal has also been launched with a slogan of “keep it green – for another 100 years”.
“This has been inspired by our great neighbours, who have been exercising on the course during lockdown,” said Ballantyne of an initiative that plans to raise £30,000 to improve the club’s irrigation system.
“We’ve received many comments about the excellent condition of the course and how beautiful the setting was, and many people have offered financial support to help maintain the course. So there is a genuine interest in the club.
“To facilitate others, beyond our members, supporting the club, we looked for inspiration around fundraising and took some from the brewers, Innis & Gunn, who used crowdfunding to support the building of a new brewery (at Heriot Watt University’s Research Park).
“We had observed during our analysis of our finances that our irrigation system was not very efficient and not as environmentally efficient as it could be and wanted to rectify this. As it is our centenary year, we felt a good project to benefit both the environment, the community and our members would be to upgrade the irrigation system. A course in great condition will also attract new members and visitors, bringing in revenue to the club and surrounding area.That’s what we aim to do with support from everybody far and wide who would like to support our aims. This is a great project to get behind.
“The future looks good. We just need to manage the Covid-19 situation as best we can. Our finances are in a much better position due to strong management. “There will be no development that disrupts the layout of our course. We look forward to welcoming members and visitors back to golf as soon as restrictions are lifted. We are ready.”
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