Open agreement protects municipal golf course from threat of closure

Hoylake municipal course would be redeveloped as Jack Nicklaus championship course
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Hoylake Golf Course has been saved from possible closure – thanks to the upcoming Open championship.

Wirral Council is set to review its municipal courses at Arrowe Park, Brackenwood and The Warren, as part of budget options aimed at saving £16.5 million in the coming financial year.

However, Hoylake is exempt because the council has an agreement for it to be used as a practice course for players taking part in the 2023 Open.

The council would also face a financial penalty due to the development agreement signed in 2016 for the proposed £200 million Celtic Manor golf resort, under which it is proposed that the municipal course is rebuilt.

The existing Hoylake municipal golf clubhouse, which would be demolished as part of the golf resort plan
Hoylake municipal golf clubhouse

Council solicitor Phil McCourt outlined the situation during a discussion about budget options at a recent meeting of the tourism, communities, culture and leisure committee.

He said: “In short, that golf course was part of the development agreement that was signed in 2016 and it runs for another few years, and so the council is obliged to make that available for any call upon it under that agreement.”

Assistant Director for leisure, Andy McCarten, added: “It is also within the provisions for hosting the 2023 Open Golf Championship, so it is used as a practice course and that’s part of the agreement with the R&A for them hosting the competition at the Royal Liverpool.”

The R&A confirmed in December that the Open will take place at Hoylake in 2023, a year later than originally planned due to the cancellation of last year’s event at Royal St George’s.

There has been no public update on the Golf Resort since July 2019, when Wirral Council pulled out of a plan to part-fund the development by way of a loan that would have generated up to £2.5 million in interest payments.

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