"Garnant Golf Club can be the best county has to offer," says potential investor

South Wales Guardian: DRIVE: Garnant Golf Club has been handed back to Carmarthenshire county council with a number of potential suitors considering a takeover. DRIVE: Garnant Golf Club has been handed back to Carmarthenshire county council with a number of potential suitors considering a takeover.

Garnant Golf Club has the potential to become the best 18-hole course in the region, according to one of the men willing to back the club financially.

The comments came after it was announced that the club had been returned to the hands of Carmarthenshire county council following the liquidator’s decision to cancel the current lease.

The venue has remained open despite going into liquidation in January, when then leaseholders Garnant Golf Club Ltd pulled out of the facility with a shock announcement on the club website that they had “run out of money”.

However, the potential investor – who has asked not to be named at this stage – claims he has offered to pump £100,000 of his own money into the club in the belief that it can become a profit-making concern inside three years.

“It is vital that people realise the club has remained open,” he told the Guardian.

“It is open and there are bids on the table to take it over.

“Garnant is never going to be the greatest golf course on the planet, but if it is the best it can be then it will be the best there is around the region.”

The proposal, which has been submitted to the council, is one of a number of schemes thought to be on the table, with local authority officers also in discussion with club members regarding a possible takeover bid.

At a recent meeting of Carmarthenshire’s full council, concern was expressed over the 25-year lease signed by Garnant Golf Club Ltd in 2011. The deal included the firm, an offshoot of Clay’s Golf of Wrexham, receiving around £200,000 in taxpayer funded subsidies to run the course, which was built using regeneration grants on a former opencast site for around £1million in the 1990s.

The subsidy – paid by county taxpayers – came to an end last November.

Speaking before council, Quarter Bach’s Councillor Glynog Davies expressed concern over the management of the course.

“It was a sad day in the Amman Valley when the news broke that the club was in major difficulties and the company responsible for the place was bankrupt,” he told fellow councillors.

“These people were meant to insure the future of the development.

“Once the subsidy money ran out with this company they ran away.”

Cllr Davies also questioned the whereabouts of council-owned machinery which had been used at the club, but was said to have been removed since January.

“When it was closed the place was completely stripped of all assets. All the machinery that is needed to maintain the place was taken,” he said.

Deputy – now Acting – Chief Executive of the council Dave Gilbert said prior to the shock website announcement it had been believed that the club was doing well.

“The general feeling was that it was being run in a good way and there was the general consensus that Clay’s were running it properly,” he told councillors.

Regarding machinery, he said: “There is a very clear asset register to show what assets the council owns and what assets the golf club owned. If anything belonging to the council is gone that will be a very serious issue.”

On Wednesday, February 26, Ian Jones, the council’s Head of Leisure, said: “The liquidator has now disclaimed the lease and the liability and responsibility for the facility is back in our hands.

“It will continue to run with a skeleton service whilst options are presented to members for decision in the coming weeks. Needless to say, we are very keen to see the facility operating successfully and sustainably in the future.

“In the meantime, we are pursuing outstanding debts against Clay’s Golf, as guarantor over the company that was set up to operate the golf club.”

Clay's Golf has not responded to Guardian efforts to contact the firm.

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