Opinion: Once the golf course is gone, it's gone forever

Gavin Ames

Golf club members to discuss multi-million pound lease surrender deal

Cycling is the new golf apparently, as MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra) gather in their pelotons on the roads on Sunday mornings. Now time is so precious, people are reluctant to spend several hours playing 18 holes, when they can have a workout and see the countryside and still be home for a late breakfast.

We also need more houses, as apparently whether we Brexit or not, the population will continue to increase and no promises have been made by anyone about curbs on immigration.

However, it saddens me greatly that Maidenhead Golf Club is to be bulldozed and turned into 1,300 houses. Some would call this social progress but, as I walked its public footpath last weekend, it was awful thinking that 'driving' on the course would soon take on a whole new meaning.

Let us not be under any illusions. This is all about money. Despite recently extending the lease on the course, the council is now throwing up to £16m to get its golfing tenants to play somewhere else. And the quicker they get off the land, the bigger the payout.

It seems to have belatedly dawned on someone at RBWM (for the club's lease was recently extended for another 25 years), that with Crossrail due to be completed in 2018, a prime site next to the train station will be worth hundreds of millions once the council has rubber stamped the planning permission.

The current members were told the club could purchase an existing golf course, or it would share out the money (although they would need to change its constitution for this), with members getting up to £35,000 each. Who could blame them for taking the cash?

This is why I think this is a bad idea. Firstly, it can’t be undone. The club is more than a hundred years old, with a beautiful landscape you couldn’t put a price on. Once they sell up, the opportunity of playing it will be denied to their children and grandchildren forever.

Secondly, aren’t Shoppenhangers Road and Braywick Road congested enough already? I fail to see how another 1,300 houses, perhaps contributing another 2,000 cars is going to help.

Finally, yes more houses are needed, but why do we have to build the new ones on top of the existing ones? Although some say ‘our country is full up’ only two per cent of UK land is actually built on. How about we spread people out a little and let them have gardens bigger than two table tennis tables?
Now people are happy getting on their bikes, they can live more rurally, on cheaper property and still get to town centres to work – by a cheaper and more healthy means of travel.

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