Premium Avatar
Log in

The amateur golfers taking on the might of Wimbledon: ‘It’s like Brexit. It has split members’

The Guardian
Saturday 1 December 2018 10:00

For months, a battle has raged between the legendary tennis club and the golfers who play next door. Will they give up their fairways for £65m?A fortnight before Christmas, when most people are worrying about finding the money for presents, Catherine Devons will turn down an £85,000 windfall she didn’t ask for and certainly didn’t expect. Even in the mercenary world of London’s runaway property market, and in one of its wealthiest and leafiest corners, such huge jackpots are rare. But in Wimbledon, tennis is big business and money talks.For the past nine months, a battle has been raging in SW19 – between the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which has been running the championships since 1877, and a small band of golfers who want to keep playing at their own club, which happens to fall in the shadow of Centre Court. International tennis is a brutal business, and Wimbledon now faces stiff competition from the US, Australian and French Opens – all investing hundreds of millions of pounds in state-of-the-art facilities for players and spectators. All England executives are proposing a huge expansion that would gobble up Wimbledon Park Golf Club, turning its tees, fairways and greens into yet more grass courts and tennis facilities. A £65m deal to take over the 120-year-old club was tabled earlier this year – and in two weeks’ time will be put to a vote of 758 golfing members, who include Piers Morgan, Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly, and former cabinet secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell; if it gets the go-ahead, each player, who owns a share of the club just as in a co-operative, will collect an £85,000 payout.If you’ve joined the club recently, you don’t have as much history or friendships to lose, and a lot of money to gainThe All England is like a vulture, looking over the road at us as easy pickings Continue reading...

Read more