Eight municipal golf courses in England have been forced to close their doors after their parent company Mack Trading, which runs Mack Golf, announced it had gone into voluntary liquidation.
The firm was in charge of council-owned courses in Merseyside, Cheshire, Dorset, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Hampshire and Lancashire, and have left local councils searching for other 'options' for the future of these courses.
Southwood GC were one of the golf courses affected, and took to twitter to announce the news, addressing customers with the following notice.
"This letter is notification that due to unavoidable financial difficulties, Mack Trading (Heaton Park) Ltd & Mack Trading Amenity Management Group Ltd (trading as Mack Golf) are regrettably closing for business with immediate effect.
"These Companies have ceased trading and are now in the process of a Creditors Voluntary Liquidation. An official Insolvency Practitioner has commenced the insolvency process. All business debts will now be assessed by the Insolvency Practitioner. These debts will be evaluated in order of priority and the decision to either pay or discharge the debt will be made by the official Insolvency Practitioner throughout this process."
They had previously launched a campagin to help the save the course, which Justin Rose had tried to help raise awareness for.
Stony Holme Golf Club and Moors Valley Golf Club
The eight English courses affected are:
- Bowring Park Golf Course, Huyton
- Ellesmere Port Golf Course, Ellesmere Port
- Heaton Park Golf Centre, Bury
- Knights Grange Golf Course, Winsford
- Moors Valley Golf Course, near Ringwood
- Stony Holme Golf Course, Carlisle
- Southwood Golf Course, Farnborough
- Stanley Park Gold Course, Blackpool
Rathbane Golf Course in Limerick, Ireland has also been closed.
In a statement, Manchester City Council said: "We remain fully committed to ensuring that affordable, high-quality golf facilities are available and will identify a new long-term operator, while also examining all possible options to keep the course open to golfers in the short-term."
Luthfur Rahman, the council's executive member for schools, culture and leisure, said: "We were informed on Wednesday morning that Mack Trading, which operated the Heaton Park golf course and several other courses nationwide, had ceased trading at all of its UK businesses with immediate effect.
"This is clearly extremely disappointing for the many people who enjoy playing golf at Heaton Park."
The Manchester Evening News reports that a memo was issued to councillors from council bosses that said: "This has come as a shock to us and will be extremely disappointing for the many people who enjoy playing golf at Heaton Park.
"At present, whilst there is no operator in place, the golf course has had to be closed to the public."
David Garrett, secretary of Heaton Park Golf Club, said the closure came as a 'huge blow'.
"There was absolutely no inclination this was going to happen, but we are positive for the future," he said.
"Members were shocked but we hope the course can be reopened with a new operator as quickly as possible."
Bowring Park Golf Course, Huyton and Heaton Park Golf Club
According to the Liverpool Echo, Bowring Park Golf Course has already reopened after it was rescued by Knowsley Council.
And after talks with former staff and their representatives from the GMB union, all five workers will be re-employed as the council looks to find a permanent operator for Bowring Park.
Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley Council's cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, said: "It was a real shock to the community when the course suddenly closed.
"Not only are local people really proud of this historically important course but it also employs five people and is much valued by golfers.
"It was really important for the council to do everything we could to get the course back open as soon as possible, so I'm delighted to be able to confirm that we're going to do just that."
The council is now going to tender for a permanent operator for the course and plans to find one by March. But Powell said it would be 'business as usual' for staff and golfers in the meantime.
She said: "I'm really confident that we'll be able to attract a high quality operator for the course and I'm sure we'll get a lot of interest in running the course.
"The £2m of investment that is going into Bowring Park at the moment should make it a really attractive proposition for the right operator."