The predicted disaster, now become reality!
Wigan Today 26th July 2016. Promises promises? “Fed-up golfers say their course has gone ‘downhill’ since it changed ownership and want something to be done”. 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. 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.
“An un-named council spokesman, any one of the above shadows, 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”.
Did we say “The predicted reality?” or the “ever moving feast”?
Now, sadly, the “new footgolf facility which will open in 2018” is predicted to open as written by the “WLBC Head of Wellbeing & Leisure Services…[having stuck a finger in the air] “Therefore the final seeding and green shaping will occur in March 2021, this will delay the course opening until Autumn 2021”, that’s yet another three years.
But it seems that the patience of the “independent golf members, the seniors”, has been tested beyond the limit by such serial, repetitive, unrealistic claims.
They have written about the struggle for members over the last few years, the lack of maintenance on the course, the mass exodus of members to Berrington Hall GC, the number of regular playing members now below 15.
Is it any wonder that the Club Management Committee is considering the future of the club? WLBC, Serco, Skelmersdale elected members, hang your heads in shame for what you have done to these wonderful senior citizens and their loyalty. Equality, non-discrimination, compliance? Isn’t this what the new super WLBC compliance officer should be looking at on his first day in the office?