Council golf courses up for sale

Posted On 17 Sep 2019 at 10:09 am

Brighton’s two council-owned golf courses are up for sale following a decision to explore other uses for them.

The number of people using Hollingbury and Waterhall Golf courses has dwindled in recent years and in June, councillors approved plans to advertise the leaseholds for either golf or other leisure uses such as glamping, events or outdoor activities..

They are also exploring in-house options, specifically rewilding, or allowing nature to take over the land once more.

Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the city’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture committee, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to provide a wonderful outdoor experience for our residents and visitors.

“By inviting proposals on long term leases for golf and/or other leisure uses we hope to receive a range of options to give both courses a sustainable future.”

The council has successfully marketed other leisure sites on long term leases which brought forward some interesting proposals. These included the Yellowave Beach Volleyball Centre on the seafront and the Sea Lanes proposal on Madeira Drive.

Hollingbury and Waterhall golf courses are owned by the council and are currently managed externally by MyTime Active a registered charity operating as a social enterprise to promote wellbeing. The contract ends next March.

Participation in golf has declined in recent years. Factors which are considered to be causing the decline include the oversupply of courses, the length of time it takes to play a full 18 hole round (approximately 4 hours), that golf is relatively expensive to play, the increased participation in other recreational opportunities such as cycling and a lack of diversity of golf participants

Over the last eight years season ticket holders have fallen significantly. Season ticket holders provide the core usage for each course and are very important for viability of a course.

In Brighton and Hove there are a large number of courses all competing in a very small geographical area. A nearby course in Hassocks has recently closed and the owners of Haywards Heath golf course are attempting to sell it for development.

Current operator Mytime Active has significant experience of operating a range of golf courses on behalf of local councils and has led a number of initiatives to encourage more participation.

This has included foot golf at Waterhall, improved catering and function facilities at Hollingbury and various golf development initiatives. However the financial benefits of these have not been able to compensate for the drop in golf income.

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  1. C T Reply

    We really need our green spaces. Don’t turn these into something horrid!! Not everything needs to make money, we need space and exercise (and, no, I don’t mean golf).

  2. Paul Anthony Reply

    Perhaps if the Council wasn’t so namby-pamby and allowed the management to actually look after the course properly and stopped all the dog walkers basically traipsing all over the course and sort out the rabbit problem, the course would be in a whole lot better condition and people would want to play there more without the hindrance of the general public using it as an exercise area and meeting place to walk their pets! Considering there is an actual park almost adjacent the course, why should golfers who pay to be on the course have to wait while Joe public stroll all over the place?

    • Sally Reply

      Actually the public have right of way on the public footpaths over there and don’t expect golf balls to go whizzing past their ears because people like you think its you’re right to be there and everyone else should get out of your way!!
      So the rabbits are causing you a problem too, oh dear well perhaps you’re best suited to tiddlywinks! Heaven forbid the Herring Gulls, Crows and Magpies also cross your path! 🙄

      • Ted Striker Reply

        We pay for the privilege to play golf on this course unlike you who just thinks that all open spaces are purely for them and they should take precidence. As for the rabbits, I think all golfers should take an extra club especially for them.
        When you start paying to walk here, I may change my comments, until then, keep your eyes open for stray golf balls

  3. TW Reply

    Golf is far from being a dwindling sport; more and more people are taking it up! Yes Brighton and Hove have a number of very nice but private courses and they all seem to be busy but like the post above, doesn’t have dogs running all over the courses, leaving deposits on the fairways, bunkers and greens. Perhaps the management should have ‘marshalls’ going around regularly to keep people off the course and to make sure play is ongoing and not slow. I was playing at East Sussex National the other week and it was idyllic; peaceful, gorgeous scenery (as has Hollingbury and Waterhall). Not sure what the price of a green fee is on these courses but should be well subsidised compared to the private courses. I paid £35 at ESN with a county card on a Sunday and both East & West courses were in tip-top condition. Perhaps the Council have already got buyers lined up to build on the land but are just ‘putting it out there’ to cover their own backs if/when no one takes up the ‘offer’ to keep the land as a sporting venue! Maybe turn them into 2 quality 9 hole courses, with range facilities and become places for beginners to learn the game at a good price before they go off and play other courses……..

  4. AB Reply

    I hope nature is allowed take over the land, filled with trees wildlife, so making it into a nature reserve, with some running/walking trails, and maybe a cafe to recharge the batteries.

  5. MB Reply

    Haywards Heath Golf Club isn’t closing. It’s been awarded Asset of Community Value status by MSDC.

  6. m warden Reply

    I am a member of hollingbury park golf course, when people a pay a lot of money to play golf you expect to be able to play the game but this is not the case at hollingbury you are constantly having your game interrupted by dog walkers, bike riders and joggers, we even have people sun bathing on the fairways and people letting there kids play with the sand in the bunkers I have seen it with my on eyes, you couldn’t make it up, bearing in mind a golf course is a very dangerous place when I have politely said to people you do realize you could get struck by a golf ball, you either get sworn at or you get told this space is for us as well ,dog walkers bike riders and joggers don’t pay 800.00 pounds a year do they, its like any outside sport bowels,archery,football whilst people have payed money to play there sport it should be respected ,there are lots of football matches being played in our local parks during the week and weekends while matches are being played you wouldn’t walk across the pitch would you, if I was to pull out a golf club over stammer park or wild park and start smacking golf balls about where there are people having picnics, playing ball, and having a family day out I would soon get told this is not a golf course you could kill someone with a golf ball.

  7. Amanda Dunlop Reply

    I am a frequent dog walker on the public footpaths that run over and around hollingburry golf course and I am very respectful of the golf being played as are the majority of dog walkers I have seen, maybe more signs before entering the golf course about the correct etiquette would help and more regular Sunday lunch and better advertising of the amazing function room would help drive more money through the door. It is very hit and and miss, afternoon tea options, fitness classes, weight watchers, kids clubs toddler groups the list of possibilities are endless, use the secondary schools to encourage reduced after school golf club? Come on use your imagination, I thought Brighton and Hove was supposed to be full of innovation and diversity.

  8. Jefg hemmings Reply

    I have played both courses a lot over the years and never once encountered problems with walkers, dogs etc. I actually enjoy the site of non players, it adds to the ambience and is a reminder that they are pieces of land thay can and should be enjoyed by all. I can understand that we may have one too nany, but it would be tragic to ser both close.they orovide opportunities for beginners, part time playwrs.

  9. Colin Reply

    The biggest problem for golf is sky sports so easy just to sit in doors and watch football or any sports you like just look at Brighton league football there was so many teams and now there’s none also Waterhall is to hilly and has no carts to ride in ,I remember before sky started local football and golf was so busy.

  10. Rebecca Reply

    Personally I love walking the dogs on the Hollingbury Course paths but am aware it is a golf course with golfers having paid for their time there so am considerate to them. Its location makes it a very special place enjoyed by many Brighton residents and visitors and should remain open to all.

  11. Dirk Mitchell Reply

    Hollingbury is a really great course. Btn and Hove City Council must see this facility as a vital asset to members, other locals and visitors to the city. The course layout and length makes it really good course to play. Its upkeep must be properly financed by the council and this can surely be achieved if the determination was invested to deliver a proper business plan including the regular letting and hire of function rooms to maximise the turnover and footfall. Under the freedom of information act, I am sure the golfing community would like to see the revenues and outgoings in order to identify where savings may be considered as well as where further income can be generated. Hollingbury Golf Club must continue to flourish. This city once had the best pitch and putt course in the south of England, (Rottingdean 18 hole pitch & putt,) which attracted thousands of visitors and locals annually. Why is it that the local rate payers have to lose out on these facilities? The council should ring fence these facilities because once abandoned, the nature and character of the city is forever changed. If tourism and leisure is so important to the city, what is the point in closing them. Does the council have the foresight and appetite to keep these local treasures?

  12. Bish Reply

    Short sighted as normal , from council think of all the amenities lost to shortsighted thinking by all councils over forty years two Bob .

  13. Danny Wild Reply

    Would it not make sense to close one course and invest in the other course? I played Waterhall recently and did not have any problems with walkers and dogs

  14. Adrian Reply

    I would love to know how much they want to keep it as a golf course

    • Gregory Horne Reply

      Typical council. No imagination. Probably stifled the management and any ideas they had. Look at what they do not what they say. There won’t be any ideas to generate more revenue than golf. It’s about £26 for a round of golf. I went to Bedgebury Bike Park in Kent. It has 23k of walking trails for dog owners, mountain biking trails that dogs aren’t allowed on, a Go Ape a cafe and a bike shop. You just pay to park. £13 for the day. It was packed. If they build housing on Waterhall or Hollingbury courses then they had better build two new schools, invest in more refuse and recycling staff and lorries, police, fire brigade, public transport, road maintenance, libraries and GREEN SPACE for all the extra residence.

  15. James Goddard Reply

    Sell it off….don’t want my £200+ a month council tax paying for other people to play golf. Pay for it yourself!!

  16. Pingback: 7 Great Pay n Play Public Golf courses in Brighton – Jolly Explorer

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