Sleaford Golf Club

Willoughby Road Greylees Sleaford NG34 8PL
Manager: Neil Porteous

Telephone:01529488273 E-mail: manager@sleafordgolfclub.co.uk URL:
PGA Professional: Tel:
Course details

Yardage (men)

Medal 6526 Par 72 Ladies Medal 5616 Par 72
Green Fees: Note. In this age of austerity, green fees are sometimes not published or are subject to frequent chage or special offers. 28 Weekday - Round Special Offers
40 Weekday - Day Winter green fee Monday to Friday only £20
36 Weekend - Round
Weekend - Day
Facilities:Full 18 holes.
Excellent map available on web site
Assessment:

Having been Club Captain at Sleaford in 2010 and having been a close spectator to the events affecting the review,  this review is written with that declared interest.

Sleaford had the potential to be one of the three most playable courses in Lincolnshire and is renowned for being almost totally impervious to the weather. Even after a heavy overnight storm there is really no effect on the playability. The terrain is flat and the overall effect is really that of an inland links course with sandy soil and tight fairways. However, in winter, when its natural assets should make it pre-eminent in the area, unnecessary restrictions detract from its appeal and playability. Like many greenkeepers, the encumbent at Sleaford brought with him several practices not appropriate to Sleaford

In summer the course is pleasant enough, but has nothing to offer that others do not. At the turn of the century the generally flat greens were the finest and fastest in the county but are now probably average when compared with nearby courses. For larger visiting societies there is a problem in that the club has only two buggies for hire.

Because of poor financial decision making in the past thirty or so years, there has not been any significant investment in infrastructure and it really shows, particularly in the changing rooms. The bar area is quite small and dominated by a large TV permanently tuned to Sky Sports. From cease work on Friday until late night Sunday even the acceptable low standards of dress are ignored and the bar is transformed into a profitable, but what for many members is an unattractive 'pub' venue with all the problems that such places attract.

Despite an itinerant life and membership of more than 20 clubs, Sleaford is the first club at which I have seen an AGM disrupted by foul-mouthed drunks against whom censure was all but ignored. At any one of the other clubs at which I have been privileged to be a member, the offenders would have had their membership withdrawn with immediate effect.

Like many clubs, Sleaford has never had a cogent business plan, every attempt being conditioned by determination to avoid conflict with an untutored and largely anonymous group hell bent on undermining progress. This has led to overspending on non-essentials and lack of investment in the things that matter. More than £70 of every subscription is used to support a retained professional and overstaffing in other areas. These are non-essential expenses the club has not been able to justify for several years, but the election of the professional’s shop assistant as club Vice-President pretty well ensures a profligate future in this area of cost. For some time there has been a very obvious agenda to undermine the manager in order that the professional may be appointed to the position. In any club such an appointment is fraught with problems arising from the clear conflict between to the two positions. At Sleaford it would guarantee further decline.

In mid-February 2015, the already tense atmosphere was seriously damaged by anonymous publication of a Nazi based video vilifying the management, the seniors and a number of individuals. The club committee decided to deal with a major culprit, a member influencing club juniors, by writing him a letter telling him that he had been ‘unwise’! Dismissal would have been the consequence in any other golf club in Britain. This type of incident is rare, but there is frequent abuse of management and some members, albeit at the intellectual level of a primary school playground.

For the reasons identified above, for many members Sleaford Golf Club offers a permanent air of tension. Identifying the problem in this social organisation is easy, nailing down the cause was less so until this statement from a ‘younger (40+)’ member. He said: “ I have been a member for 30 years and I happily take my wife and children to the club at the weekend”. Perhaps therein lies the vital clue that this largely anonymous group's resentment of the seniors and non-native Sleafordians is not primarily age related, but is a result of the club being inherently parochial rather than cosmopolitan or, as some members describe it: Tribal. Inherent in the problem is that for most of its life the club was fairly exclusive to Sleaford. Now it is not. This 'parochial' ethos is simply how the club has developed as the 'immigrant' contribution to income has increased to a level where they dare to try to interfere in the running of the club.

The general population of SGC is friendly in the extreme and it would be difficult to find a more welcoming group of seniors or ladies anywhere. Treatment of the Seniors has always been, as at some other clubs, on the basis of "we are granting you the privilege of". Many other clubs have dispelled past prejudice and now recognised that at 25% or more of a club's total membership and contributing substantially more than 25% of club income, the Senior's should be formally recognised in the same way as the much smaller complements of Ladies and Juniors. Restrained by the club's small subterranean 'nasty' core, Sleaford Seniors contribute the most but are still not granted official recognition and exist as 'grace and favour' members. It is an important factor that potential members should bear in mind.

Sadly, the small subterranean clique of the membership (mentioned above) introduce an unpleasant and all-pervasive undertow and contribute massively to every problem the club endures. I resigned in March 2015 as a consequence of the thoroughly unpleasant atmosphere in the club and the unwillingness of the management to even attempt to tackle the problem. Another former Captain and recent Committee Chairman took similar action a little while later.  Fourteen months later the abusive and anonymous e-mails have not totally ceased.

Is there a solution? It is difficult to see one in an environment where you are either ‘local’ or you are not. It is a tiny example of an international problem for which no one has yet found a solution, but one that is much less apparent in a club that is not so closely associated with one small parish rather than a wider area. This is a classic dilemma where those who are most affected are powerless to make the essential changes and those with the power to make those changes do not believe they are affected or are fearful of making the changes. The consequence is a poor atmosphere of the kind that detracts from any venue. Overall, there is a permanent tension in the air that is perpetuated by a couple of the key staff and generates a situation making Sleaford very much a course to visit rather than a club to join.

A recent approach from a prominent and respected member was at pains to suggest that things are changing for the better. However, invitation of opinion from a few members confirms that if there is any change to the situation, it is not yet evident. The central disruptive core has not been dealt with and continues to have a massive influence over the club from its place in the shadows

If you live in the Sleaford area and are looking for a welcoming club,  South Kyme provides a very nice atmosphere at an unbelievably low fee and has a well established seniors’ section. A similar distance from Sleaford is Blankney Golf Club which is welcoming, cosmopolitan, has traditional standards and is a well managed and very challenging venue that will suit the serious golfer as well as those for whom golf is simply social recreation. A little further away is Boston West, another good course with excellent facilities and for the beginner, Sudbrook Moor is a short nine-hole course that is beautifully maintained and has superb practice facilities.

 

 

 

 

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