ALLENDALE have no pretensions about cutting any ice – if you will excuse the seasonal reference – at the high end of their sport.
No expense is spared in the world of luxury resort golf, where annual running costs hit seven figures. Cinderella club Allendale, whose nine holes nestle deeply in spectacular Northumberland countryside, get by on £45,000.
They need every penny, which is why they can afford only one employee, greenkeeper Michael Keen, relying otherwise on members who love the sport to give freely, copiously and generously of their time.
It is also why Robin Down, the volunteer treasurer, greens committee chairman, website designer and club photographer, will be hoping his powers of persuasion have an impact during the Northumberland annual meeting at the Park on Monday.
Down has a beef with the county and with England Golf, prompted by Allendale being registered with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs as a Community Amateur Sports Club.
He says this CASC status provides Allendale with several financial benefits, not least an 80% reduction in Council Tax.
Down wants the club’s affiliation fees to the Northumberland Union of Golf Clubs and to England Golf to receive the same discount. He will ask Monday’s county meeting to put the wheels in motion for England Golf to make such a reduction mandatory from 2014 onwards for all CASC golf clubs in the country.
Down said: “If those skinflints at the tax office have the grace and intelligence to recognise and reward community-based amateur sports clubs, why not England Golf?
“Our annual affiliation fees are a ‘tax’ imposed by England Golf and the county based on the number of members from the previous year. This year it will be over £1400 – big money for a small club such as ours – and we can see no tangible return.
“Nor is there any reduction for our youngsters, though we intentionally keep junior membership low at £40 to make it affordable and encourage local children to take up the sport.
“More than 25% of this membership fee is grabbed by the golf authorities.
“Instead, England Golf and the county should be consistent with the tax man’s CASC scheme.” Down, 61, who lives in the village of Sandhoe, near Hexham, added: “Allendale are not Wentworth, Royal Birkdale or Sunningdale.
“It is time this vital distinction was recognised by those responsible for administering our sport.
“It is a labour of love for us all at Allendale – especially our volunteer greenkeeper Ian Robinson – and if we didn’t make this effort we would not be able to play golf in our wonderful landscape.”
Celebrating an olympic makeover
HOWEVER their plea to the county AGM on Monday turns out, Allendale already have something to celebrate.
Yesterday they announced £31,158 of National Lottery funding to upgrade the catering and central heating in their clubhouse.
This is in the form of an Olympic legacy grant from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund.
Club chairman and secretary Colin Wraith said: “Now we can improve our premises to match the quality of our golf course.
“Our membership is increasing and this is a fitting legacy from the 2012 Olympics, particularly for our junior players.”
Allendale are a GolfMark club, which means they have earned the England Golf certificate awarded to clubs who pass stringent tests on their junior and beginner friendly facilities.