Back from the brink

Alnwick Golf Club greenkeeping staff  Billy Brown, Les Tate, Joe Henderson and  Allan Golding.

Alnwick Golf Club greenkeeping staff Billy Brown, Les Tate, Joe Henderson and Allan Golding.

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WORK has begun to transform the fortunes of an historic golf club which was on the brink of extinction.

Alnwick Golf Club was facing crisis point last year before a crucial, last-gasp takeover saved it from collapse.

And since the vital breakthrough was announced in October, hundreds of thousands of pounds have already been ploughed into the Swansfield Park club and new members of staff have been employed, as ambitious plans to put the club back on the map gain momentum.

New owner Simon Kimble – the businessman behind the all-important deal – said: “Obviously it is early days but we have put our money where our mouths are. People are noticing the difference already.”

In an exciting statement of intent, nearly £200,000 has been spent on new machinery – including a range of mowers to improve the playing surfaces of the course – while experienced Allan Golding, who used to work at The Belfry, has been employed as the club’s head greenkeeper.

Mr Kimble said: “We are trying to improve the course and the facilities over the next few months and years that should reap the benefit for the members and the people who are playing here.

“In the first instance, we want to get the course ready for the season. More visitors are coming into the town and we are determined to get the course in a good condition so people who play will be impressed. From that perspective, it is a case of making it look as good as possible as early as possible.”

He added: “Allan is a great guy and has great experience. He is really excited about creating a top course. We have given him the equipment and funds to do that and I think he will succeed, I am convinced about that.

“You need to have a great team around you and we also have the two previous greenkeepers and we have also taken on an apprentice.”

The club has also seen developments off the course, with the addition of assistant manager Daniel Harrison, with the view to fill the role of golf club manager.

New members have been attracted to the club, and with the introduction of flexible memberships to cater for the needs of any golfer, and with plans to hold taster sessions and also focus on the junior ranks, it is hoped that the club will attract even more.

Daniel, 22, from Alnwick, said: “We are starting from scratch. We are trying to make sure everything is right on the golf course first and trying to get everything in place so we are meeting the needs of the modern golfer. We want to improve the experience for people, both locals and visitors.”

To find out more about the memberships available and for more information, email the club secretary on secretary@alnwickgolfclub.co.uk or visit the club website at www.alnwickgolfclub.co.uk

l The club is launching a competition through the Gazette to give one lucky reader, of any age, a year’s free membership, worth £385.

All you need to do is answer the following question:

The 150th Open was held at St Andrew’s last year. Who won?

Send your answer by writing, addressing it: Golf competition, Alnwick Golf Club, Swansfield Park, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 2AB, or email the answer to the secretary.

All entries should include the answer and your name and contact details.

The draw will be picked at random on Monday, March 28, and the winner will be announced in that week’s Gazette.