In support of Bath’s only public golf course

An open letter to Bath Newseum.

The Sion Hill & Summerhill Road Residents Association (RA) supports the return of golf to the Approach Course.

Because the homes we represent directly abut the golf course, we are intimately connected with the High Common and those who use it.  Most of us living along the northern boundary of the common have been resident for over 15 years – some as many as 40 years.

Throughout the discussions and debate about the future of the High Common, our residents have supported the return of golf to this site and continue now to support the Council in its procurement process.

During lockdown, the High Common provided a valuable green space for people to exercise.  Now that life is returning to normal, few people are using it except on sunny weekends.   In winter months or inclement weather, the course is often deserted.  People walk their dogs in the early morning and evening but during the rest of the day, there is rarely anyone on the High Common. 

However, before the course’s temporary closure in 2020, people visited the common to enjoy a round of golf throughout all hours of the day.  These people often included groups or individual retirees who came every week to improve their health and socialise.  Young novice players, tourists, students, and people from all over Bath and beyond came to use it.

The golf course attracted a diverse and inclusive group of people because it was affordable. Membership was not required, unlike other local golf courses where fees are high.  You could simply ‘turn up and play’, as one local resident highlighted.  Golf or not, people used it in a variety of ways without issue.  Indeed, one St James’s Square resident who surprisingly now opposes golf admitted in a June 2020 letter to the council:

“It is a shared space, well utilised by golfers, dogwalkers, Nordic walkers and families enjoying the open space. All of those uses happen very harmoniously.”

The council had run the golf course at a profit, or close to break-even, between 2016 and 2019 (prior to the pandemic.)  This can be reviewed in the council’s own documents.  Maintaining the common requires money.  Golf provides that money, helping to secure the green space for future generations.

Another public letter supporting the course’s closure referred to the health risk posed to dogs by chemicals used on the course.  It also suggested such chemicals harmed the environment. Herbicides used by BANES Council are, in fact, in absolute compliance with national health and safety regulations.  They are used by local residents in their own gardens and are readily available in garden centres.

In summary, we wish to stress that views expressed in the open letter from three of the nearby RAs opposing golf are not representative of all local RAs, including those closest to the common itself.

Sion Hill and Summerhill Road residents, along with many residents from around Bath and abroad, support the return of golf on the Approach Golf Course for the following reasons:

  • The course is in very good working order.  Its water sprinkling system has recently been tested and is working well.  Many people have pledged donations for the greens’ refurbishment.
  • The Approach course is now the only public golf course in Bath, and perhaps even in Somerset, following Entry Hill’s permanent closure in 2020.  Prior to the pandemic, the Approach Course registered 15,000 visits each year, and this figure would now be expected to rise. 
  • The cost of maintaining the common would be offset by those paying to use the course.
  • People of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds would have access to an inclusive sport.  Of particular note, golf provides an opportunity for Bath’s significant elderly population to exercise where other sports are less accessible.
  • A vibrant café and toilets feature in the council’s reopening plan.
  • 5,000 people already signed a petition supporting the return of golf in 2021.