Golf will return to the Approach open space in Bath next spring after the appointment of a new operator. They will be providing both an 18-hole pitch and a novel nine-hole footgolf site.
Bath & North East Somerset Council has awarded Swansea-based company Future Golf Ventures a four-year contract to bring golf back to the site as well as expanding its use for the community, including a new café.
The 18-hole pitch and putt course will reopen following its closure in 2020, with the addition of a nine-hole footgolf course, providing affordable golf that will be available on low-maintenance greens throughout the year. Footgolf is a combination of football and golf where a football is kicked into cups set into the ground.
The community will continue to be able to enjoy the site as a free, green public space that welcomes walkers and dog walkers, supporting everyone to be able to gain the mental and physical benefits of being active outdoors.
Biodiversity will be increased by additional planting, with some of the site left as a meadow to attract more insect species.
The proposals submitted involve a reconfiguration of the 18-hole course to provide additional community areas to take account of public feedback received from residents.
Future Golf Ventures was appointed by the council following an open procurement exercise carried out in May this year. The company runs Swansea Footgolf.
The new golf facilities and café are expected to open in spring 2023.
Councillor Mark Roper, cabinet member for Economic Development, Regeneration and Growth, said: “We pledged to bring golf back to the High Common and the appointment of a new operator will make that a reality as soon as next spring. However, making the most of the space isn’t only about golf, as it’s a well-loved ‘green lung’ in the city that we’re keen to attract more people to enjoy. Walking and being active in nature is free and provides many health benefits.
“The introduction of footgolf will also provide a new, affordable leisure activity that may appeal to people who would not otherwise have visited for traditional golf. I’m pleased that the regeneration of this important green site has taken a big step forward. I’d like to thank everyone for their time and input to help us reach this point and appreciate that by so doing we have reached a solution we trust brings sustainability and certainty to the site.”
Rhydian Thomas and Roger Maliphant, Directors at Future Golf Ventures and Swansea Footgolf, said: “We are delighted to be chosen as the preferred bidder to manage the leisure offer at The Approach and to bring back pitch and putt golf to the High Common. We have already engaged extensively with the community, prior to our successful tender, and will continue to do so on a regular basis, while we are custodians of the site. We also look forward to introducing a small, challenging Footgolf course, as a new activity, while being cognisant of the local heritage, environment and the biodiversity of the terrain.”
Meanwhile, Lansdown Councillors Lucy Hodge and Mark Elliott have welcomed news that a new operator has been appointed for the Approach golf course.
As you have just read, Future Golf Ventures has been awarded a four-year contract by B&NES Council and will provide pitch and putt golf, footgolf, a café, and toilets, along with community benefits.
Councillor Lucy Hodge commented:
“It’s great news that a new operator has been found to bring golf back to the Approach after a three-year hiatus.
“This new contract is very much in line with what the local community wants to see: traditional, affordable pitch and putt golf, the kiosks providing a café and toilets, protection of the Approach as a green space open to all for leisure activities, all delivered with sensitivity to the environment and heritage setting.
“Footgolf seems like a fun, new activity, which could have broad appeal to families and across different age groups, attracting a range of players, to make the operation more sustainable.
“We have heard from many local residents wanting to see the return of pitch and putt golf to the Approach where it has been a long-term attraction for the north of the city – I’m pleased the Cabinet members have listened to local views.”
Councillor Mark Elliott added:
“The Lib Dems have made responding to the climate and nature emergencies into a central ‘golden thread’ guiding everything the Council does. So, I particularly welcome the news of biodiversity enhancements, tree planting, areas set aside for meadows to help support insects and ‘low maintenance’ greens. This maintains the area as an iconic green space in the heart of the city, whilst also providing valuable leisure facilities to the people of Bath.
“It’s 18 months since the Cabinet promised to listen to the public and commit to bringing golf back to the Approach. I’m very pleased the Lib Dem administration has delivered on this commitment.”