THE sale of the clubhouse to a housing developer will safeguard the future of golf at Baildon for the foreseeable future and provide a brand new facility that is expected to be ready before the end of the year.
Club President Ian Holmes also believes the model could pave the way for other clubs in Yorkshire who are faced with the continued challenge of rising costs and falling revenues. Holmes took over as President last November, but five years ago the club decided to form a development committee to address the increasing costs associated with maintaining a clubhouse that was over 100 years old, needed a new roof and windows, and was suffering from an ailing heating system.
Holmes said: “We needed to look at a way forward as the maintenance costs and work that needed carrying out to the clubhouse were putting a strain on our finances.
“One of the options we decided to explore was to convert the adjoining pumphouse, which is on a long-term lease from Yorkshire Water, into a new clubhouse.
“We decided to progress that plan and drew up plans for the conversion of the clubhouse and in tandem with that sought planning permission for five houses on the site of the existing clubhouse, which we subsequently received.”
At a special meeting in December members voted in favour of the sale of a parcel of land including the clubhouse footprint and a small area to the back of it and the developer has agreed to allow the club to continue to rent the clubhouse until the new building is ready in November.
Holmes added: “It’s really a win-win for us as it will be business as usual until around November time when we anticipate moving to the new clubhouse. The access to the houses that will be built when the clubhouse is demolished is round the back so there will be no disruption to our car park.
“We still have a strong membership. We aren’t selling the land because of any problems with membership numbers or with debts. We are thinking ahead. It’s about sustainability for the future.
“We will also be able to bank a tidy sum, which will mean golf will continue to go on at Baildon and we can now look forward to celebrating our 200th anniversary.
“Many golf clubs are facing the same challenge that we did and maybe this is a business model that we can share with them.
“We were fortunate that we had an existing building next door that could provide an alternative, but I’m sure there are other clubs in Yorkshire that have similar opportunities.
“The message from us is ‘New Year, New Era, New Golf Club’, but until November it is very much business as usual.
“Our new chef Lucy Stock has an excellent reputation in the area and the fact that she chose to come here rather than take up other options shows that we have a very bright future and one that has been safeguarded by the sale of the existing clubhouse.”
Golf has been played atop Baildon Moor since five-time Open champion James Braid laid out the course in 1896 and the 18-hole moorland layout has stunning views over Ilkley Moor and the Yorkshire Dales.
The course is mostly unchanged from its original design and has produced several fine players including former Ryder Cup player Gordon J Brand and European Senior Tour player Richard Masters. It is also the home course of top European Tour caddie Dominic Bott, who has worked for the likes of Thomas Bjorn and Paul Casey, and his course review on the club’s website, cast with an expert’s eye, is well worth a visit.