IT was revealed this week that Newton Stewart Golf Club is in desperate financial trouble and unless it is allowed to sell more land to raise funds it will cease to exist.
This week officials of the club told The Galloway Gazette that balancing the books has become impossible owing to the recession and the lack of visitors, who used to provide much-needed revenue each summer through green fees.
The club was saved from bankruptcy a few years ago by the sale of land for development – and if the same can be done again it will offer a lifeline to the 116-year-old club.
Baird Matthews, who has been member since 1947, and an honorary member for the past 10 years, is very concerned about the current situation.
He said: “Just like football clubs, tennis clubs and other sporting associations, golf clubs in Scotland have been hit by the financial recession and some have, unfortunately, folded. Newton Stewart, in common with some other local clubs, is very concerned over the difficulty in balancing its books and coping with the recent annual defects.
“The golf course was formed in 1896 and from the start was recognised as a social and challenging test of golf, producing some outstanding players. The Dalrymple Cup – the earliest existing competition throughout the county – was dominated by Newton Stewart when it won it each year from 1909 to 1914 and again from 1926 to 1931.
“Mr Robbie Murray from the Newton Stewart club won the South of Scotland Championship four times between 1935 and 1939. He also won the County Championships Cup so frequently that it was presented to him for his retention in 1968.
“The club has always concentrated on encouraging and coaching younger members, and in 2012 this has culminated in a remarkable and perhaps unique event. This year the first, second and third places in the men’s County Championships were won by three Newton Stewart members – David Brodie, aged 25; Connor Bennewith, aged 17; and 16-year-old David McCreadie. The 16-year-old won the men’s and junior championships also this year.
“This year two ladies from the club – Pat Magill and Helena Fox – entered the Daily Mail National Foursomes competition in the company of 3000 other competitors and, having won all their matches in Scotland, they were invited to the Forest of Arden Club in Warwickshire to compete in the last 16, where they were knocked out on the last hole of their match. One of these two ladies came third in the Scottish ladies Golf Association medals Competition in Crieff this year.
“Such individual and team successes to a large extent are a result of willing and sustained tuition of the juniors by James Erskine, the esteemed golf professional from Portpatrick Dunskey Golf Club.
“Newton Stewart Golf Club is currently recognised as far afield as Germany, where only last month one of the members, playing as an invited amateur in the European Seniors’ Open in Winston Golf Germany, played in the Pro-Am part of the match as a partner of Bernhard Langer and during the game he had a hole in one!
“With such background and reputation, it is difficult to accept that Newton Stewart Golf Club is experiencing such serious financial difficulties that, in fact, its very existence is now threatened. The local community and the local authority are most supportive and
encouraging, recognising that in Scotland the game of golf is responsible for considerable international tourist interest, but the club needs all the help and support it can get from more visitors, and, above all, new members.”