THE operators of a company backed by golfing legend Ian Woosnam have said they want to run Wirral’s under-threat Brackenwood golf course.
RM Estates Ltd, which is the parent company of The Ian Woosnam Golf Academy and Golf Courses, has already taken charge of other council-owned courses in the North West and has confirmed they will be helping to maintain Brackenwood from this month with a view to operating the facility as a “not for profit organisation”.
A post on the club’s Facebook page said: “Brackenwood Golf Club is pleased to report that working alongside one of the operators that have submitted an expression of interest to run the course (R M Estates—Woosnam Group), maintenance should return to care for the land from as early as Monday, May 16.
“This is fantastic news, not just for the future of the course, but also for the local community who are using the land for daily exercise. We will keep you updated as we receive more information.
“This is a big step in the right direction to Brackenwood reopening for the local community with the potential for exciting plans for the future.”
R M Estates Ltd currently run Malkins Bank golf course at Sandbach, Queens Park in Crewe and Ellesmere Port.
The move to close Brackenwood, along with Hoylake Municipal, was approved earlier this year with the council predicting it will save £328,000 towards the £20m the authority needs to save to address a major gap in its budget.
It was one of many cuts passed at a meeting of all of Wirral’s councillors on February 28, with the authority also withdrawing funding from Woodchurch Leisure Centre and nine public libraries.
Former professional golfer Tony Minshall, who runs RM Estates with backers including Woosnam, said: “We are looking forward to maintaing Brackenwood Golf Club and have been around the course and it is a great golf course that is about to die.
“We have signed a maintenance contract until June 30, which we are paying for ourselves and using machines we have available from our other three golf courses.
“I played Brackenwood over 30 years ago in their annual Pro Am which was part of the Cheshire PGA Pro Am circuit – it was good then and deserves to be saved now.”
“Keith Marsh, the secretary of Brackenwood Golf Club, has been instrumental in putting a deal together, however I must stress we are only maintaining the course at this stage.
“We have put our bid in for Brackenwood which is together with the members of the club – it will be a not for profit organisation which is why the members were always in my mind and had to be part of it.
“If we were lucky enough to win the bid it will involve free golf for under 18s, value for money membership and pay as you play.
“It would be good to have a community asset where everyone is welcome and the club is the hub of the community.
“The members have a lovely clubhouse and totally believe in the golf course, Ian himself is looking to find another world number one and we also have Gareth Woosnam, Ian’s younger brother, who is one of the best green keepers I have ever worked with and manages the maintenance of all the courses.
“We are proud of what we have achieved with Cheshire East and West councils where we have a great relationship with the council officers.
“Wirral Council have been very helpful to us and we are looking forward to the local people being part of the course in the future.”
At a meeting of Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee on March 16, Conservative councillor Helen Cameron was asked what the council would do to protect assets such as Brackenwood before any community transfer is completed, with one member of the public asking the council to provide resources to protect the greens and agree for the community to take a lead role in looking after the course.
Cllr Cameron said there was no money allocated for this and if it were to be undertaken the funding would need to be taken from another service. On the question regarding the greens, she said that while the council would consider what could be done in the interim, there would be a cost for which there was no budget.