How golf club is getting back to par financially

By Jonathan Kalmus, March 15, 2012
A guard of honour for new lady captain Rhona Goldenfield

A guard of honour for new lady captain Rhona Goldenfield

Hosting christenings and wakes is helping Manchester's Whitefield Golf Club to overcome a financial crisis.

Jewish golf clubs have been in decline due to diminished interest from younger generations and competition from secular clubs.

Two years ago, Whitefield was on the brink of financial meltdown. Its membership had more than halved from its 800 heyday and assets had plummeted from nearly £2 million in 2005 to just £150,000.

But the club is now reaping the rewards of the strategy of opening the 100-acre course to non-members at a daily rate. And although Whitefield has been open to non-Jews since its inception in 1932, financial director Esmond Edwards says a campaign to market the club to non-Jewish players has helped increase membership by 15 per cent to 300-plus. This, in turn, has brought another advantage.

"We have opened our clubhouse to events. We have kosher caterers in for Jewish functions but we have seen lots of weddings, engagements, christenings and even wakes from the wider community. Figures to December 2011 show it to be our first profitable year in quite a few."

On Tuesday, the club installed its 2012 lady captain, Rhona Goldenfield - who has also played bridge for England - in the presence of a number of past captains. They included 90-year-old Betty Gruber, who is still an avid golfer.

Last updated: 1:31am, March 30 2012