• East Lothian club to shut its doors this Saturday
• Follows earlier denials by owners on bunkered.co.uk
• 'A lot of people are very disgruntled by this news'
CASTLE PARK GOLF CLUB
As revealed on bunkered.co.uk earlier this month, Castle Park Golf Club in East Lothian is to close – and a lot earlier than planned.
Its 350-plus members were informed via email yesterday afternoon that the doors will shut at the end of play on Saturday, with the club to be turned over to farmland.
In a statement, the owners, the Wilson family, said: “It is with great regret that I have to inform you that Castle Park Golf Course will close for good at the close of play Saturday 31st January 2015.”
They added: “The reasons for this are two fold: Since we announced our impending retirement in early December we have had an unprecedented loss of members and as a result the golf course business will not be viable for 2015.
“We have had offers for the land to revert to farmland and none at all to purchase a golf course. This is not how we intended our ownership of the course to end, but have accepted one of the offers. Clubs throughout the country are seeing drops in membership.
“It is better to make a clean break at the end of the golfing year." - Castle Park owners, the Wilson family
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you all for the past nine years and it is with sincere regret that we have to bow out on such a sad note.
“It is better to make a clean break at the end of the golfing year i.e. 31st January 2015 and allow you all time to get fixed up with another Club, in good time to get signed up for Spring and Summer competitions.”
Earlier this month, this website broke news of concerns for the club’s future – concerns that were furiously denied by the owners only a matter of hours after the story went live.
Their denials, though, appear to have been short-lived.
Former club champion Tom Rintoul told bunkered.co.uk: “There are a lot of people who are very disgruntled by this news. The way it has been handled seems very underhand. They've effectively given us three days' notice.”
He added he first became concerned for the club’s future at its AGM in December.
“All that Jim talked about was the value of the land, the value of the land, the value of the land,” added Rintoul. “Not once did he mention the value of the golf course.
The statement from the club adds that all monies will be returned to current members.
“I could see happening and tried to convince as many people as I could to join other clubs in the area. Around 20 listened to me but most didn’t.”
Incredibly, Rintoul added that he saw membership fees for the forthcoming season still being taken at the club’s reception desk on Sunday afternoon.
“That struck me as really strange,” he said. “I do not believe for one second they didn’t know then that they were intending to inform people on Wednesday about the closure.”
The statement from the club does, however, add that all monies will be returned to current members.
It said: “We shall shortly return all subscriptions to those who have paid prior to 1st February and we are informing Fairway Credit not to collect any standing orders on 1st February 2015.”
"Scotland has not seen course closures on a scale seen south of the border." - Andy Salmon, SGU deputy chief executive
Subsequent to the announcement of the course closure, an EGM to discuss “The future of Castle Park Golf Club following closure of the golf course at Castle Park” was called by Peter Robertson, on behalf of the club committee. It will take place at Tweeddale Arms Hotel in Gifford on February 10 at 7pm and is “open to all those who are members of Castle Park Golf Club as at 31 January 2015.”
Andy Salmon, the deputy chief executive of the Scottish Golf Union, commented: “This is sad news for the members of Castle Park Golf Club, brought about by the retirement plans of the owners. We hope and anticipate that former members at Castle Park find the right membership for them at a local club in East Lothian, with various memberships at a number of courses available.
“Scotland has not seen course closures on a scale seen south of the border. However, this news reminds us all of the need to take a modern business-like approach to managing golf clubs and the need to provide our golfing customers with products and services that meet their needs.”
The Wilson family did not immediately reply to an email from bunkered.co.uk to discuss the closure of Castle Park further.
Castle Park :: Third Lothians course to go
Castle Park is the third golf club in the Lothians to close in the past 18 months, following Lothianburn in September 2013 and Torphin Hills.
Click here to join the debate on the closure of Castle Park Golf Club on our forum.