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By Hugh Boag
Members of Brodick Golf Club have voted to start talks with a consortium interested in buying the club.
In a packed clubhouse on Monday night members voted nearly four to one to proceed to further investigate the possibility of selling the golf course and the buildings of the 120 year old club.
As previously reported in the Banner an offer to buy has been made by club professional John Wilson. He told the meeting he had a consortium of German businessmen ready to invest substantially in the club, without detailing any figures.
However, Mr Wilson, who has been at Brodick for nine months, was met by opposition from the members when he refused to disclose who his backers were or anything about their financial background repeating only several times that they were ‘ultra high net worth individuals’, who are people with assets of £20 million or more.
A total of 84 members packed the clubhouse for the meeting and at the outset Mr Wilson said the ‘huge turnout’ showed how much they cared about the club. He said that under the purchase a new company would be formed to run the clubhouse and the golf course but he said for the members who paid their £386 annual membership there would be no discernible difference from them as they would operate as ‘a club within a club’.
However, what he said they would see was improvements to the golf course and clubhouse facilities and a change in the number of visitors. ‘Obviously we see potential in the facilties here,’ Mr Wilson said.
But despite repeated attempts by the audience he would still not be drawn on who the backers were saying it was ‘not relevant’ at this stage. But some members accused Mr Wilson of treating them like ‘idiots’ and asking how they could vote on a proposal that was little more than heresay.
However one member suggested that without considering what was proposed they would be ‘voting against the best thing that could have happened to this club, or the worst.’
It was also argued by members that they were only the custodians of the club, which was first formed in 1897, for future generations but this was countered by the views that without investment the golf course was going to continue ‘disappearing into the sea’.
And Russell Duncan produced membership figures to show its aging membership. Of the 256 members just 58 are under 50, 90 are aged between 50 and 60 and 108 are over 70 years of age. ‘That is not sustainable and without new membership the club will close in 20 years. It is much the same across all Scottish golf clubs and there’s no doubt that many of those who fail to take action will not exist in 10 or 20 year’s time.’
Mr Wilson said he believed his proposals would be good for Arran, good for Brodick, and good for the club and its members, but there remained opposition with one lady suggesting. ‘I don’t believe in fairytales. It sounds a bit too good to be true and I would like to know who we are dealing with.’
Club captain and meeting chairman Lindsay Keir said: ‘It is up to the potential buyers to produce a contract and that will have no cost to Brodick Golf Club. I don’t think this vote is binding us to anything.’
Asked why the club did open itself up to other offers. Alastair Dobson insisted: ‘We are not for sale at the moment. There has been a potential offer and it is a no brainer in my opinion that we should consider it.’
A vote was then taken with 55 supporting the proposal to proceed and 15 rejecting it. Not all those attending were eligible to vote.
Afterward Mr Keir said: ‘I am pleased the club is going forward with the proposals and we are to listen to what the offer will be to buy it.’
Mr Wilson added: ‘I am pleased with the outcome of the meeting and will now discuss it with the consortium to take the proposals forward in the new year.’
John Wilson at Brodick Golf Club which he hopes to buy. 01_B51brodick01