Wimbledon Park Golf Club’s membership has landed a £65 million payout after members voted on Thursday night to finally accept the neighbouring All England Lawn Tennis Club offered to purchase the club.
The 73-acre site on which the golf club sits is already owned by the All England Club, but the lease extends until 2041. The sale means that the land will revert to the AELTC much faster, so that development to expand the tennis club, home to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, can begin as early as 2021.
The vote saw 82% of members vote in favour of the sale, more than the 75% majority that was required. An earlier vote held in October removed a clause so that all its 750 members will stand to benefit from the payment, which will amount to around £86,000 for each member.
The last time the club voted on a similar – though smaller – offer was in 2015, when the members rejected a proposed compensation package of £25m, or just under £50,000 each. The club is expected to retain a portion of the land on which a smaller nine-hole course will be available for members that choose to remain to use.
Philip Brook, the All England Club chairman, said: “The decision is a hugely significant moment for the AELTC and The Championships. We have achieved what we set out to do many months ago in having certainty in our planning for the future. We have been open in our long-term ambition to move the Qualifying Competition from its current home in Roehampton to the AELTC Grounds as part of our mission to continue to maintain the position of The Championships as the pinnacle of the sport. Furthermore, we have the ambition to open the land up to increased public use in the future.”
Wimbledon’s primary motivation for buying the golf club stemmed from its desire to keep up with other Grand Slams, whose progress has put its pre-eminence in the sport under threat. The long-term plan is to build numerous courts on the golf course, which could potentially see temporary stands put up to expand capacity. It will not, however, be entirely straightforward, due to severe planning restrictions on much of the new land, especially at its southern end. Many of the trees, which date back to the original work done by landscape architect Capability Brown, are protected.