Cretingham’s picturesque golf course to close amid sport’s declining popularity
- Credit: Archant
A Suffolk golf club renowned for its picturesque greens is set to close this weekend – another victim of the sport’s declining popularity.
Owners of Cretingham Golf Club, near Framlingham, said they had been “backed into a corner” and the business was no longer viable.
The course has been on the market since June last year, together with practice facilities, a clubhouse, cottage and 10 holiday lodges, but has failed to attract suitable offers, despite a significant reduction in the £2.25m asking price.
Next month it will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, either in its entirety or as five or six smaller plots to be redeveloped.
Neil Jackson, who bought the club with his wife Kate and her parents 19 years ago, said the sport’s declining popularity together with financial difficulties, had left the family with no option.
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“The downturn in golf and then what’s happened with the bank has pushed us into a corner,” he added.
“It’s a £2million asset that’s losing money – it’s not viable to keep going.”
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Mr Jackson said he had offered to sell just the course and clubhouse to the club’s 200 or so members for a reduced price of £795,000 but the deal had not been taken up.
On Saturday the club’s members will hold their last awards day, after which it will close for good. Ten members of staff will lose their jobs. The holiday lodges, which are said to attract many visitors to Suffolk, will also close.
The family also own the Brandeston Queen and Cretingham Bell pubs, which are unaffected by the club’s closure.
Nationally and worldwide, golf is said to be in turmoil. In 2006, more than four million Britons played the sport but by 2016 that number was just 2,785,000.
England Golf, the sport’s governing body, said membership of clubs had fallen from 850,000 to 652,000 in the same period.
Last year, Waldringfield Golf Club announced plans to create a new “retirement village” on part of the 19-hole course.
Matt Bartram, managing director for Heritage Developments Ltd, which was leading on the plans, said it was not financially viable for the club to continue as it had been.
“Golf is going through a very challenging time at the moment, with players leaving in their hordes,” he said last September.