Businessmen from Gloucestershire have come together to forge a new partnership to save Cleeve Hill Golf Club, one of the top 100 courses in England, from closure.
MASHIE Golf, fronted by former City of London lawyer turned golf-clothing entrepreneur, Nick Hovey, and Sam Foyle, co-founder of The Cotswold Hub Co, are the names driving the new enterprise.
It is a partnership promising not just to keep the Cheltenham golf course open and transform it into a first-class golf club, but also to invest in ‘more facilities for all users of the hill including lodge accommodation, restaurant and new pro shop with café’.
‘This is a really exciting time for MASHIE and Cleeve Hill. The golf course is iconic, and to be able to help save such an important venue is very special for us,’ said Mr Hovey, 43, managing director of MASHIE.
MASHIE Golf will be establishing a new headquarters at the hilltop site, which overlooks Cheltenham and its famous racecourse.
Mr Foyle, co-founder of The Cotswold Hub Co, said: ‘We have brought together the best-in-class local team, from architects, hospitality, through to MASHIE Golf’s golf management expertise.’
Tewkesbury Borough Council revealed last year the course, which it owns, was earmarked for closure unless it was able to find a new partner to take on the lease after the previous operator said it was not viable for it to continue.
It was a predicament that also drew attention to the unusual provenance of the course, which has been listed in the top 100 English Golf Courses by National Club Golfer.
Legend of the game, Old Tom Morris, is said to have designed the course, a man who laid down the footprint for some of Britain’s finest championship venues as well as played in more than a few British Open Championships.
MASHIE has secured a 125-year lease with Tewkesbury Borough Council and promises to ‘provide continuity for Cleeve’s existing members’ as it also works to encourage membership growth.
It is not yet known whether the Cleeve Hill will become part of MASHIE’s stable of courses. The business sells clothing, but also offers a membership service giving the nation’s growing army of travelling golfers access to some of the nation’s finest clubs.
Cleeve Hill is unusual in that it is common ground and shares the space with walkers and cyclists.
Phil Robson, chairman of Cleeve Common Trust, said: ‘We are thrilled that we have been able to retain the playing of golf on Cleeve Common. The course is considered to be of historical value within the world of golf, but it is also part of the history of the common.’
By Andrew Merrell