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Back in full swing

Thriving: Supporters of Ingol Golf Club celebrate the success of the club only a couple of years after the land was almost turned into a housing estate.
Thriving: Supporters of Ingol Golf Club celebrate the success of the club only a couple of years after the land was almost turned into a housing estate.
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Fairways were to become driveways under proposals tabled in 2010 by owners Northern Trust, who closed Ingol Golf club because of dwindling membership.

But the company, run by PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, didn’t count on the strength of local opposition to the housing scheme, which saw a petition of 518 names gathered within days.

An action group was formed and for two years the plans were battled out in town halls and by planning inspectors, before Communities Secretary Eric Pickles eventually threw out the plans in 2011.

In June last year, Government planning expert Richard Hollox said the course should remain undeveloped for the next 15 years .

Since then, two former local professional golfers, John and Tim Wright, have taken on the task of reclaiming the golf course and returning it to its former glory.

So far, with the help of local businesses and residents, more than £200,000 has been spent on renovations, with volunteers getting their hands dirty, redesigning the course and inputting a drainage system that, since April, has removed 4.5 million gallons of rain water via Cadley Brook.

Member John Taylor said: “Work on fully reclaiming the course is now well under way and the transformation is striking.

“Fairways are near their previous standard, greens, though still in need of more work and, more importantly time, are now for the main part very playable and progressing on an almost daily basis.

“Feedback from golfers, both those familiar with the course’s previous layout and those newly discovering Ingol village, is generally positive.

“A choice of a slightly shorter course and wider fairways now provide a more enjoyable experience for higher handicapped golfers but don’t be fooled; choose the tougher competition tees which include extensions of some of the old holes and you’ll realise that Ingol Village is an extremely good test of golf , even for low handicappers.”

A harsh winter has meant that only 70 per cent of the work to greens and fairways has been completed, but the fully refurbished clubhouse was opened in February, with 480 people signing up as social members on the first day alone. A new restaurant also offers a range of dining options, and can be booked out for social events and gatherings.

John added: “The club has got a real community feeling now, it’s not just for sportsmen having a coffee in the morning.

“Twenty years ago three farms were compulsory purchased to make way for the golf club, which was made in an American style - surrounded by houses and designed for community use - and now I think we’re really getting that feeling. The other day we had a Christening here, and the new owners are also really keen on getting youngsters involved in golf.”

The newly formed golf club is headed up by secretary Terry Baldwin, president John Garratt, and captain Tony Cameron, who are all keen to welcome new members and secure the future of the club.

Membership categories include, full playing, senior, junior, lady, corporate and social. Annual Fees range from £5 for social membership through to £165 for casual and £549 for full playing.

John added: “You fought to keep this wonderful asset, it’s now time for you to take advantage of it. Come along to the club and ensure its future success and longevity.”