Oxford MailGOLF: Members make progress in turning Hinksey around (From Oxford Mail)

Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us

GOLF: Members make progress in turning Hinksey around

Oxford Mail: Hinksey Heights offers outstanding views across Oxford’s famous skyline  Picture: Greg Blatchford Order no: OX67727 Hinksey Heights offers outstanding views across Oxford’s famous skyline Picture: Greg Blatchford Order no: OX67727

AN unusual approach which put members in charge is beginning to revive the reputation at one Oxfordshire golf club.

Hinksey Heights may possess some stunning views across Oxford, but not long ago it faced significant problems after a chequered recent history.

A troubled time under former owners culminated in a 2012 court case, when professional Dean Davis was fined for burying fertiliser and oil at the course.

With things going from bad to worse, the membership was on the verge of collapse.

“We had a situation where 75 per cent of the members would have left if things had continued, including us,” said Russel Matthews, one of three men working to revitalise Hinksey Heights’ fortunes.

He was elected to a new board in February 2013, along with Martin Wilkinson and David Milne, when owner Addy Greswell decided to hand over the day-to-day running of the club to those who knew it best.

They quickly unearthed a variety of difficulties, with just one greenkeeper maintaining the 27 holes, which had areas of poor drainage.

Matthews, 67, from Summertown, said: “Every time you looked at something in depth you found an issue, but I’ve had the philosophy of if we are doing something we will do it right or not at all.

“It’s not about sticking plasters.”

It was an unenviable task, but gradually the trio have made progress, committing at least one day a week each to the task.

Around £70,000 was spent upgrading the irrigation system last winter and the greenkeeping staff is now up to five, closer to what is required.

Oxford Mail:

  • Hinksey Heights’ three member directors (from left): David Milne, Martin Wilkinson, Russel Matthews

As strides have been made with the course, improvements can now be made in other areas and new caterers were appointed last month.

Wilkinson believes the support of Greswell, who also sits on the board, and the rest of the members has been vital.

The 67-year-old from Headington said: “Every four months we have a forum where we face the members and tell them what we have been doing.

“Everybody has helped out with particular skills and some are very forthcoming.

“One of our members is a chartered accountant, so helped put our accounts together. “It works extremely well with the owner and the more we have got to know each other the better it has got.

“There was an element of suspicion on both sides, but I think we have developed a confidence in each other.”

The model means each year one of the three positions comes up for election.

Milne’s was the first post to become available, but the 69-year-old from Abindgon was re-elected.

He acknowledges the biggest task now is convincing golfers outside the club that times have changed.

“We have one of the best layouts in Oxfordshire, most people recognise that, but we have still got this reputation,” he said.

“We have a very friendly and attitude and have tried to be all-inclusive.

“It doesn’t matter who you are once you come through our door – that’s a great feature.”

A series of offers and open days are planned to show off the new and improved club.

Matthews said: “All we can do is get people up here, then the hope is the quality of the course speaks for itself.

“It shouldn’t be called Hinksey Heights, it should be called the Phoenix Golf Club, because it’s risen again.”

  • Latest Sport news

    SHOOTING: Hot-shot Rivers delighted with Commonwealth bronze

    Oxford Mail:

    9:30am Saturday 26th July 2014

    Dan Rivers admitted he has never been under so much pressure after winning a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games yesterday.

    United loan stopper Long aiming to play for keeps

    Oxford Mail:

    8:30am Saturday 26th July 2014

    George Long is looking forward to a battle with Max Crocombe to become Oxford United’s first-choice goalkeeper after joining on loan yesterday.

    CRICKET: Price and Ward fire centuries in big victory

    Oxford Mail:

    8:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    CENTURIES from captain Tom Price and Harrison Ward helped Oxfordshire Under 14s to a poignant 103-run victory over Shropshire ECB in County Cup Group 2.

    SWIMMING: Wood makes it a deadly dozen in City's Open

    Oxford Mail:

    8:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    CITY of Oxford’s Chris Wood won 12 gold medals in the club’s July Open Gala at Temple Cowley.

    SWIMMING: Super Wilkinson through to open water nationals

    Oxford Mail:

    8:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    DIDCOT Barramundi’s Freddie Wilkinson won a gold medal in the ASA British Gas South East Regional Open Water Championship at Westhampnett Lake, near Chichester.

    CRICKET: Davies leads Oxfordshire to third win in a row

    Oxford Mail:

    7:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    ALEX Davies scored a fluent 69 as Oxfordshire Under 17s posted their third successive ECB Cup victory with a 63-run success away to Bedfordshire at Southill Park.

    CRICKET: Charlbury thwarted as Freeland go top

    Oxford Mail: cricket generic

    7:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    Freeland moved to the top of the Oxfordshire Midweek League with a 24-run win at Charlbury.  After being inserted, the visitors made a respectable 104-3 from their 16 overs. Carla Wood led the way with 28 not out, while Rhian Todd (25no) and Suzy Halsey (18) also contributed.  Charlbury made a flying start in reply with Caroline Shearer hitting an unbeaten 27, including six fours, as they raced to 53-0 after eight overs. However, Freeland managed to put the brakes on and restricted to Charlbury to 80-4. Robyn Coburn was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors with 2-4. RESULT Freeland 104-3 (C Wood 28no, R Todd 25no), Charlbury 80-4 (C Shearer 27no, R Coburn 2-4). l CHARLBURY held on to second spot in ECB Women’s Midlands League Division 2 despite not playing. No Oxfordshire sides were in action this week, but Astwood Bank’s surprise defeat at bottom club Moddershall boosted Charlbury.

    CRICKET: Cumnor are champions

    Oxford Mail:

    7:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    Cumnor were crowned Oxfordshire Under 13 champions after beating Great & Little Tew by six wickets at Bicester & North Oxford.

    TENNIS: Oxon men on the up after last-day victory

    Oxford Mail: tennis racket hitting ball for sport

    7:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    Oxfordshire's men clinched promotion to Summer County Cup Group 4 with a 5-2 win against Buckinghamshire at West Worthing yesterday.

    ICE SKATING: County aces target nationals

    Oxford Mail:

    7:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

    Oxford skaters Natasha Nemeth Knight (15), Maeve Hastings (13) and Alicia Boyer (10) head to Sheffield Arena in November to compete in the national championships.


Comments are closed on this article.


Get Adobe Flash player
About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree