By Connor Briggs
Armley’s very own Gotts Park Golf Club celebrated its 90th anniversary on Saturday (8 April). The golf club first opened in 1933.
The building has a rich history, having originally been a mansion house for the Gott family. Benjamin Gott, one of the leading figures in the industrial revolution and Armley mill owner originally lived in the property himself.
In 1928 the building was under the ownership of Wade’s charity. The mansion as well as the grounds was leased to Leeds City Council for 999 years with the condition the grounds remain a leisure space for the people of Leeds, seeing it become a nine-hole golf club five years later.
The golf club has expanded over its 90-year tenure and now holds an 18-hole course on its grounds. It became independently operated by a local social enterprise group in 2015 after an agreement was reached in principle with cash-strapped Leeds City Council.
Robert Nicholas Goodman, shop manager and club welfare and safeguarding officer, said: “The best part is the enjoyment everyone in the local community gets out of the golf club.
“It’s great to know that people from the past have worked hard over the last 90 years to keep the golf club running, and everyone involved today is trying their utmost to keep the club up and running because at the moment it’s quite difficult.”
The club faces problems with dwindling membership due to the age of previous members. They’re now aiming to attract a younger base to the historic venue.
Mr Goodman said: “I think the area in Armley definitely needs something that can keep the 10 to 18-year-old bracket a little bit busier with other things, something that is positive and gives back to the community.
“People don’t realize that we play a lot of interclub golf so people can be part of a team and feel as though they belong to something.”
The club also faces other problems, such as anti-social behaviour.
“We put up with a lot of vandalism on the course unfortunately, it’s a constant battle,” Mr Goodman added. “We’ve had vandalism through bike damage which has cost us thousands of pounds.”
Mr Goodman says volunteers are crucial to the club’s success: “The golf club employs seven people, but the majority of the club is run by volunteers, mostly from the local community. Gotts Park Golf Club would not exist without volunteers.
“We’re a community interest company and the amount of money we make just sees us through every year, but if we didn’t have those volunteers helping Gotts Park Golf Club it couldn’t exist.”
Mr Goodman reflects on his tenure: “One of my favourite memories was seeing our oldest member, who was 90 years of age have his final game of golf on his birthday. It’s wonderful to know that there’s a sport out there that keeps people active and mobile, from the age of four to ninety.”
Following 90 years the club is still looking to the future. Mr Goodman explained his vision for the club: “I personally would like to be able to have Gotts Park continuing to work within the community, and to be a solid part of the community and help anybody that needs our help.
“We want to continue to attract people to Armley and continue to offer a fantastic game of golf, if that can continue for years to come that will be fantastic.”
For further information, visit Gotts Park Golf Club’s website or for contact on 0113 231 1896.