Silsden Golf Club in Yorkshire is to shut down at the end of March, with the owner citing falling membership numbers as the reason for the closure.
Members of the Keighley-based club, which was founded in 1911, were told of the decision at an extraordinary general meeting held this week.
Chairman and treasurer Martyn Twigg said that the closure was ‘very sad for everyone involved’, but that the club couldn’t continue as a viable concern.
He said: “Throughout its history. the course has survived thanks to the voluntary management by its members. Over the years there have been several periods when survival was in question, but the course has developed from the original nine holes to firstly 14, and then to 18 in the late 1990s – when the old wooden clubhouse was also replaced with a much larger stone building. Unfortunately, completion of the expansion coincided with a general decline in golf’s popularity and the club has struggled with the upkeep of the facility over the next 15 years.”
Mr Twigg said problems came to a head in 2013, when membership numbers had fallen to a level that couldn’t sustain the mortgage payments and investment in the course. The committee was forced to sell the whole operation to pay off a mounting debt.
He added: “We were extremely fortunate in that a local businessman – Ian Hill – became the new owner and supported the club’s future with an initial five-year lease, with much optimism for extended years after that. Moreover, he has supported the club in many ways since his arrival and invested in improvements along the way – and we are extremely grateful.
“However, despite the best efforts of our small but dedicated committee, the club has been faced with year-on-year declines in membership numbers to the point where – whilst 2019 presented many difficulties financially – it was clear that this year would be even worse and we could not continue as a viable entity.
“A decline in the popularity of golf, and the ever-increasing average age of players, is a national scenario that has seen many clubs go to the wall in the last decade. Nevertheless, whilst the closure of Silsden is very sad for all the members, it may go some way towards making some of our neighbouring clubs a little stronger as our membership moves on.”