Proposals to shut down Stockwood Park Golf Centre in Hertfordshire have ignited fury from club members and the public.
Luton Borough Council has launched a public survey over its plans to close the golf centre – which boasts an 18-hole course, a par-3 9-hole course and a 21-bay driving range – in order to make up a shortfall in income from other areas, including Luton Airport, which has suffered a significant drop in revenue during the pandemic.
Paul Hulme, club captain at Stockwood Park, said: “I am disgusted that during a pandemic, when golf participation is on the rise and we need green space more than ever, the council is considering closing such a valuable asset to the people of Luton. Stockwood Park Golf Centre has over 250 members and attracts business from many golfing groups and casual players from a wide area.
“If the course is closed, the council is reinforcing the prejudice that golf is a game reserved for old, rich, white men. Golf is a sport for life and should not be reserved for the elite. Stockwood Park provides a public golf course accessible to all ages and backgrounds, where tens of thousands have taken up the sport over the last 50 years.”
According to Luton Borough Council , the savings are being considered due the financial implications of Covid-19. A statement from council said: “The council is drawing up potential savings due to a significant shortfall in its budget due to a collapse in passenger numbers at Luton Airport, which is a major source of income for the council and revenue support for Active Luton. As a direct result of the impact of the coronavirus shutdown, the council is focused particularly on the future operation of the Golf Centre at Stockwood Park. This includes the 18-hole course, the 9-hole course and the clubhouse building.”
An online petition to save the golf centre was launched last week, and has already attracted over 5,500 signatures. Petition organiser Sarah Jolley wrote: “Golf is one of the only sports that has been open and can be played socially distanced during Covid-19 except during lockdowns. Stockwood Park Golf Centre is a gem in our town, it caters for all ages and is an affordable golf centre.”