The future of an English golf course, which aided Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose when he was a junior, is hanging in the balance.
Rose played many times at the pay-and-play Southwood Golf Course in Hampshire when he was growing up – but the local council want to shut the course in Farnborough and turn it into an area of natural parkland.
Members and staff were notified of the potential closure in August and a final decision on whether the course will be saved or not will be made at a council meeting on December 12.
Since August, the facility has received an overwhelming amount of public support. A ‘Save Our Southwood’ Facebook page was created and a petition was launched gaining more than 2,500 signatures to date.
As well as social media support from Rose (above), governing body England Golf also sent a letter to Rushmoor Borough Council urging them to think again about closing the course – and all this support is believed to have taken the council by surprise.
“I don’t think the council expected this level of public support or any resistance to the plans at all,” Maureen Adams, chair of the Save Our Southwood task force, told bunkered.co.uk.
“Rose has been fantastic. He’s a local boy who clearly hasn’t forgotten his roots so it’s been great to have his support throughout this.”
Adams also reiterated the course’s importance of being the hub of the local community and has fears that many keen amateur golfers – particularly seniors – may be lost to the sport altogether.
“We’ve got 200 members here but it’s not really about them,” she added. “It’s a municipal course so we get loads of pay-and-play visitors, charity days and societies playing here.
“The key factor is it’s a local course that’s accessible to all. You can play a round of golf at Southwood for just £15. That’s why we don’t want to lose it. There’s nothing like this in the area.
“The closure could stop a lot of people taking up the game and seniors from playing altogether. The government constantly talk about physical and mental health and this is the only exercise some of the guys get. The social benefits are fantastic also and, even if the seniors can’t play, they’ll still come up for a coffee and catch up with the friends.”
Due to the petition having more than 1,000 signatures, the Save Our Southwood group will present the results at a full council meeting on December 7. Five days later, the final decision on Southwood Golf Course will be made.
The petition is still available to sign, and you can do so here.