Merrist Wood Golf Club in Surrey is to become a pay-and-play venue following its sale by Crown Golf to new owners Lavershot Oaks.
The Guildford-based club, which has been under Crown’s ownership since 2004, has been operated as a members’ club since it first opened, but under the new owners it will be operated as a pay-and-play facility, with all memberships discontinued.
According to Companies House, Laverstock Oaks is a Bagshot-based company that was set up in June this year. Its directors are Graham and Charles Wooldridge, who run the Wooldridge Group, a privately-owned company that specialises in landscaping and groundworks.
Writing in an email that was sent out to members, Stephen Towers, chief executive of Crown Golf, said: “The sale of Merrist Wood Golf Course to Lavershot Oaks has now been completed. After careful consideration the new owners have taken the decision that they wish to operate as a pay-to-play course and therefore have not purchased the club and the membership. This is to allow them the freedom to develop their plans for the site, which they hope to invest in over the coming years, without the requirement to maintain all services on a constant basis.”
He added: “They are keen that existing golfers continue to patronise the course and have indicated they will be extending discounted green fee offers to existing members of the club, who wish to continue playing the course. This does mean that membership golf will no longer continue in its current format at Merrist Wood. I appreciate that this will no doubt be disappointing for many long standing members, but unfortunately Merrist Wood Golf Club has found it difficult to operate over an extended period and without significant parental support would be unable to continue. The upheaval of 2020 has only seen to accelerate this outlook and therefore driven the need to make this sale.’
Prior to the pandemic, Crown Golf, which owned 25 golf courses in 2012, stated that it had evolved from ‘a purely golf course operating business into a property development company’. So far this year it has also sold Hampton Court Palace, Oak Park, Pyrford, Sherfield Oaks, Mill Green, and The Bristol Golf Club, which means its portfolio is now down to just eight golf venues. These are St Mellion, Pine Ridge, Addington Court, Milford, South Winchester, Sunbury, Batchwork Park and Wickham Park.