0 Chipping away at Hurst golf club is driving a wedge

Golfers in Hurst have taken a swing at council bosses who they say are driving them off their course.

Hurst Golf Club has been using the course at Dinton Pastures in Sandford Lane for 27 years and its 250 members are now worried about its future.

Changes in the catering arrangements - now contracted to a company called Baking Waves - were made by Wokingham Borough Council and have sparked complaints from the club.

Captain Richard Monk said: "They have been running the beer stocks down and running the clubhouse like a café with just cakes. It is no longer the kind of catering that is suitable for a golf club."

Golfers playing in the evening also find the clubhouse closed when they arrive back and they cannot get refreshment, clean their shoes and clubs or use the toilets.

The golf club has also been asked to move its noticeboard and memorabilia within the clubhouse.

Mr Monk said: "We have been squashed into a corner and the place is being run like a tea room."

In addition, green fees have been increased and a new car parking charge of £1 introduced.

Mr Monk said: "We have been told the course is losing money but if they can't provide the right kind of catering then how can it expect to make money?

"We are afraid the council has other plans for the site altogether. We think they are running it down so it can be sold off to developers."

He said another catering and leisure organisation had shown an interest in running the course but had asked for a 25-year lease, which he said the council rejected.

Additional complaints include green keeping, equipment failure and the proposed loss of part of the course to put up a fence to protect walkers from golf balls.

Mr Monk described it as "constant harassment".

Wokingham council spokeswoman Alana Razzell said there were no plans to redevelop the golf course.

She added: "Hurst Golf Course is a community facility open to all members of the public including golf club members, residents and visitors to Wokingham borough.

"As a council-owned facility it must be cost-effective and suitable for the whole community.

"The council has endeavoured to make the municipal golf course and clubhouse a widely used public facility, while accommodating the needs of Hurst Golf Club.

"As such, toilet and catering facilities have remained open while there are players on the course and there is a dedicated section for Hurst Golf Club information and trophies.

"The council has met with the golf club at least three times in the past three months to discuss the course and clubhouse and these meetings continue.

Additionally the golf course has been the subject of much praise and members of Hurst Golf Club and the public have written in to commend the maintenance."

She added that green fees rose each year to reflect increases in costs and the £1 parking charge, which has been in place for 18 months, is universal at all the borough's country parks.

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