Members' fears over fate of their golf club

Fed-up golfers say their course has gone 'downhill' since it changed ownership and want something to be done.

Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:10 pm
Beacon Park Golf Club Captain Tom Jackson and Treasurer/Secretary Malcolm Hayman on the fairway of the nine hole course which Serco say is now finished

They are unhappy with changes made at Beacon Park golf course, which has been owned by West Lancashire Council and operated by West Lancashire Community Leisure Ltd, with Serco, since 2012.

Club captain Tom Jackson, 66, said: “Serco took over in 2012 and since then it’s just been all downhill as far as we’re concerned.

“There was supposed to be about £500,000 spent on the course but it’s been a bit of a shambles.

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“We’re losing members and we’ve just had enough now.

“People were coming from outside the area, playing nine holes and then asking for their money back.

“Greens have got to be well maintained, fed and watered, and they’ve only just started doing that. There’s a lot of money involved in keeping greens.

“Serco was promising to build a nine-hole academy golf course where we used to have our practice area, but we’ve lost all our juniors because they took the golf shop away so there’s nowhere to buy balls or tees. Our junior organiser has gone and our golf pro has gone.

“They’ve also taken away our driving range and are going to use it for footgolf.

“We’ve also got a safety issue. You have got to put a big net all down Beacon Lane and Elmers Green Lane or people driving down that road are going to get a golf ball through the windscreen.

“The way they’ve built the course has got rid of a lot of trees there and golfers aren’t always going to hit balls straight.”

A large delegation from the club, near Skelmersdale, attended a meeting of West Lancashire Leisure Trust, where Serco is involved, to air its grievances.

Mr Jackson said he was hopeful that progress would now be made.

A council spokesman said the golf course’s management had offered to work with golf club members.

He said a junior academy nine-hole golf course was scheduled to open next summer and investment in the course over the last 12 months included £90,000 for a clubhouse refurbishment, £80,000 on greens maintenance equipment and £20,000 on the hire of additional greens equipment and repairs to equipment.

The spokesman said: “The driving range did close in late 2015, due to minimal usage, and is being re-profiled to facilitate a new footgolf facility which will open in 2018.

“The query about lack of safety nets along Elmers Green Road and Beacon Lane relates to the new nine-hole facility. This is not scheduled to open until 2017, and will be risk assessed appropriately by the golf course operator.

“The new nine-hole facility will have further work to the landscaping and finishes. The greens are in reasonable condition and a programme of annual course maintenance is carried out.

“Overall, membership at Beacon Park golf course has remained relatively static for the last three years. The ‘golf members club’ is a separate entity, which was given full independence by West Lancashire Community Leisure when they took over the course in 2012.”