Hastings golf club forced to close amid financial crisis

Members of SWAPS, pictured at Hastings and St Leonards Golf Club. SUS-180808-134112001
Members of SWAPS, pictured at Hastings and St Leonards Golf Club. SUS-180808-134112001

A long-standing golf club has been forced to close amid a financial crisis.

Hastings and St Leonards Golf Club, formerly Beauport Park Golf Club, has shut due 
to an ‘extreme decrease in trade’, leaving members 
angry, upset and out of pocket.

Members of SWAPS, pictured at Hastings and St Leonards Golf Club. SUS-180808-134112001

Members of SWAPS, pictured at Hastings and St Leonards Golf Club. SUS-180808-134112001

The clubhouse ceased trading on August 4, while the golf course will close at 8pm on Saturday, September 1. The driving range and shop have been locked up all week, while the course’s two greenkeepers have also had their employment terminated.

A spokesman for the Shift Workers and Pensioners Society (SWAPS) – a group of members who play at the club each morning – said: “We’re really disappointed.

“The club has been so badly managed for the past year – they’ve been trying to run it as an entertainment venue rather than as a golf club, and it’s not worked.

“They put on this event [a 125th Anniversary concert held in June] which cost thousands of pounds, and no one showed up. If they wanted us to support these events, they should have consulted with us on what we would actually want to see.

“The two greenkeepers have lost their jobs, so for the next couple of weeks the course is not going to be maintained. But even before that, the money was not being given to fix their machines – the first [ride-on] mower broke six weeks ago and the second one went last week. They’ve been mowing the grass by hand since then.

“Our membership is around £500 a year. Say there are 100 members, that’s £50,000. Where’s that money gone? Not on the golf course, that’s for sure. The buggies have been locked up, so those of us with less mobility haven’t been able to play. It’s such a shame. No one wants to see the course closed.”

Brett Mclean, who acts as a consultant for club directors Chris and Kelly Hawes, gave a number of reasons for the club’s demise.

In an email sent to members, he said: “It is with regret that I have been instructed by the directorship of the above named businesses to inform you that due to the extreme decrease in trade that both businesses have been trading at a loss for the past 12 months.

“A number of reasons for the continued decrease in trade are responsible for the businesses’s negative trading period which include the inclement monsoon style weather from late 2017 until April 2018, the recent drought-like weather including extreme heat experienced last month which continues at present, flooding caused by a lack of suitable drainage for the course, business interruption caused by anti-social behaviour, lack of general customer footfall at the clubhouse, lack of support from its members and a lack of attendance at the 125th Anniversary concert of the golf club. It is therefore with great sadness and disappointment that the current directors of the businesses have been given no choice but to close the businesses down.”

Mr Mclean added: “It’s due to the members not supporting the club enough, through the clubhouse and shop. If they spent £10 each on a meal and a coffee a week, that’s £1,500 a week. They could have saved it. It’s a simple case of use it or lose it.

“Their membership money has been spent on leasing new buggies, and paying the wages of the greenkeepers.

“The way the club was being run before was just not sustainable. We had to do something to try and increase the footfall, as it doesn’t have that natural passing footfall, so we held a number of events.

“Unfortunately, the anniversary event wasn’t as popular as we’d hoped as it was on the same night as a number of other events in town.

“Nobody likes to say they’ve failed and the directors are devastated. There are a couple of people interested in taking it over, so hopefully the golf club will be open again soon.”