A GOLF course has been saved from closure thanks to its members.
Eighteen-hole Elemore Golf Course, in Easington Lane, had been facing closure due to funding problems.
Its future looked doomed when Sunderland City Council said it could no longer allocate the £75,000 a year needed following Government budget cuts.
But members decided to form a management committee and take on responsibility for running the club after former operator company, Golf Course Management, severed ties.
They put together a business plan which was then accepted by the council, which has allowed them to pay a peppercorn rent to keep it open.
Six jobs at the site, now called Hetton-le-Hill Community Golf Club, were also saved, with the club now exploring the possibility of taking on a golf apprentice.
It is now hoping to build membership numbers of the course as a not-for-profit community club.
“There was a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not it would stay open at one stage,” said club president Peter Carr.
“But now we’re very optimistic for the future. We’ve already increased membership by 20 per cent.
“People sometimes get a bit daunted if they haven’t been into a golf club before, but we want as many people from the community to use it as possible.”
The committee is also now hoping to attract more players from around Wearside to its fairways.
“We have got 160 members at the minute, who are predominantly seniors, so we want to get more juniors into the club,” said secretary Bill Allen.
“We’re looking to grow the place by reaching out to youngsters, because are the future.”
Daniel O’Connor, chairman of the new management committee, said: “It’s going quite well for us at the minute, but the bad weather right now hasn’t helped.”
Another avenue being explored by management at Hetton-le-Hill is possible partnerships with schools in the area in the hope that youngsters will want to pick up a club and play the sport.
“I’ve been in talks with Hetton Town Council to see if we can get school pupils involved,” added Mr O’Connor.
A function room at Hetton-le-Hill is also available to book for functions.
People interested in finding out more about the club should call 517 3061.