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Bawtry has big ideas

A proposal to redevelop Bawtry Golf Club which includes a 68-bedroom hotel is built around attracting new players to the game through an alternative and educational approach to golf.

Plans have been drawn up that would see the hotel as well as a classroom, upgraded driving range and new 6-hole course to allow a quick form of golf with the aim of making the game more accessible and appealing to families.

But developers behind the scheme say they would have to build 18 luxury houses on countryside land next the course to help raise £3 million towards funding the development

The proposition has been shown to Doncaster Council's planning committee which deferred on making a decision because of some councillors' concerns that the houses could end up being built without the new facility.

They have asked officials to look into putting safeguards into place to make sure the houses can only be built if the wider scheme proceeds.

The architects behind the scheme believe the plans would be a major national project, which could turn around the fall in the number of people playing golf by making it more inclusive and easier to access.

Doncaster Council planning officer Garry Hildersley, said: "The proposal would also include the provision for 130 jobs, being made up of 80 full time and 50-part time. Presently, the existing golfing enterprise accounts for 10 full time jobs."

Architect Jon Rigby, of the Bond Bryan Partnership, said golf clubs were closing nationally due to a fall in participation which was partly due to the image of the sport as an old man's game.

He said: "It is in need of regeneration and sites like Bawtry Golf Club need support like this to survive as a vital community asset.

"The ambition is to provide accessible and inclusive access to the whole of the community, not just for those with the spare time and money to play.

"We are looking to challenge pre-conceptions by showing that golf can be enjoyed by the family, as part of a healthy lifestyle."

He said the club was looking to set up an outreach project to get involved with schools to increase participation among youngsters. It has already run a pilot scheme with Balby Carr School.

The scheme would also include a fitness suite, village bar. conference area, plus an academy, contained in a building designed to look like a traditional country house.

Hildersley said he thought the educational benefits and the new amenities in a scheme that could provide a destination of local and regional importance outweighed the harm to the countryside of the construction of 18 houses.

Currently only 10 per cent of the 44-year-old club's 294 members are under 40, and the pitch submitted talked about offering an 'alternative and educational approach to golf', with an emphasis on welcoming and growing grass roots aspects of the game through work with local schools

They plan to invite local groups to come into take part in educational programmes, with an involvement in the site by Sheffield Hallam University also pledged.

Bawtry is the latest high-profile golf scheme lined up for Doncaster.

In 2015, the European Tour backed plans for a new tournament golf destination at Rossington Hall, which is due to see the site transformed into a world class golf complex and resort under the European Tour Destination banner.

A championship course capable of staging a European Tour will be designed and built on the near 500-acre site, complemented by a nine-hole club course, a club house, leisure facilities and 500 luxurious homes. The scheme is currently at the planning stage.

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