Golfers have been given a stay of execution to continue playing at what is known as “Scotland’s best municipal course”.
But the sting in the tale for members of Grangemouth Golf Club is that, in a bid to safeguard its future for the next 15 months, they face a significant increase in fees.
The course had been on a ‘hit list’ of facilities which were under threat as Falkirk Community Trust attempts to meet a £1.8 million budget shortfall in 2017/18.
Falkirk Council, on whose behalf the trust operates arts, leisure and sporting venues across the district, had heard in December that by closing the course £700,000 would be saved annually.
Closure of the facility would affect the pavilion and the course currently leased by the golf club.
However, the trust and a new committee are working together with the aim of allowing the club to continue until April next year when it hopes to be in a position to take over the running of the course.
The club has set up a takeover working group and is planning consultation events.
But members face a hefty rise in fees – adults going up 20 per cent from £300 to £360; senior citizens seven day membership from £153 to £200; and juveniles from £71 to £90. Members have been receiving letters this week detailing the increases.
Neil Brown, trust general manager, said: “With the support of the golf club, the trust’s season tickets have been increased significantly to help reduce this deficit.
“The generation of additional income, alongside reductions in the expenditure on the operation of the course, will hopefully enable the trust to continue the operation and management of the course until April 2019.
“However, if insufficient income is unable to be generated from the increased season ticket prices, then a financial deficit will remain and the future of the course will remain in doubt.”
The club’s management committee said: ““We are delighted that we have started a very positive dialogue with the trust and Falkirk Council. The current proposals will provide us with an opportunity to look at viable future options taking account of the views of our members, season ticket holders and other stakeholders.
“We understand that course users are faced with an increase in costs which is never welcome but we would urge people to support the club and course by paying their fees to ensure that the facility remains viable in the short term with real opportunities to shape things going forward.”
They added: “We have not been advised of a minimum take up of membership required to keep the course open but, as with all sports facilities, we are aware that people need to use them to keep them viable.
“We are taking positive steps to secure the future of the course and we have established a takeover working group. We are working on proposals for a transfer of management of the course and will be focusing on the views of course users to shape how this will look.
“We plan to hold consultation events, have issued newsletters to club members to let them know what is happening and are encouraging them to join for the season ahead. We appreciate the scale of the challenge and welcome it.
“We are delighted that the early outcome of communications with members is positive and they are indicating that they will pay their fees so that’s good news.”