Dear Editor,

I should like to begin by thanking Mr Hills for his wide-ranging, interesting letter.

His late father’s picture hangs proudly in Basingstoke Golf Club’s (BGC) professional shop, a reminder of his many years of service as our professional. 

From his historical perspective, his letter rightly acknowledges Basingstoke’s past - golfing and generally - but seems to perceive some progress, development and growth for criticism.  

Basingstoke town’s dynamic growth over decades is a credit to many councils and the energy of its inhabitants. 

Even in this demanding post-Brexit and Covid period there is regeneration of our Basing View business area, bringing new businesses and people to the area, people who will need housing of all types.

Having encountered cancer four times, I cannot speak highly enough of our stretched medical services in Basingstoke and Guildford. 

The as-yet-unknown but much needed doctors, nurses and other staff will all require housing.  

The “relentless ‘urban sprawl’” Mr Hills mentions is a vital sign of growth, renewal and Basingstoke’s expanding family. “Growth and renewal” are encouraging signs, much better than their opposite – an absence of vital signs.

I have been a member of BGC for over thirty years. I was privileged to be its 2016 Captain, former Director and Chair of Green in charge of course development. In my limited time, we made below grass changes James Braid - its 1928 designer - could not have dreamt of. 

Currently, I am Chair of the Course Working Party with responsibility for the new design and development.  

His assessment of BGC, Kempshott’s parkland course, omits to mention increased water incursion caused by housing on the site’s boundary had altered on-course ground conditions making the predominately clay soil muddy in Winter. Former Dummer Golf Club’s (DGC) free-draining, chalk-based geology is one reason for the move. Neither the recent ground staff nor the original designers require his defence. 

With their annual course budget, DGC’s green staff did a great maintenance job under the circumstances.

Peter Alliss and Clive Clarke - the original designers - took an unpromisingly flat tract of land and built a challenging downland golf course using 1992’s specifications and standards for that level of course. Many changes occurred over the years.

I met golf’s voice, Peter Alliss, several times. In a 40-minute, Saturday morning telephone call he made, we discussed his Dummer design and the proposed alterations, e.g. re-building greens to modern specifications. Far from considering the changes a criticism, he seemed delighted at the prospect of Dummer’s new lease of life and wished us the very best.

As a committed golfer from age thirteen I have no doubt the late James Braid and Peter Alliss would revel in the exciting opportunity to re-build. Weller Design of Farnham, BGC’s course architects, and the current committees are working hard to give BGC another hundred years to meet the demands created by modern equipment and golfers who expect to play every day of the year.

It is hoped BGC will provide a great sporting and social facility for our new businesses, doctors, nurses, other workers and our members. Much medical research indicates golfers live longer. We hope BGC (new), our yet-to-be-constructed golf facility, will once again be the premier members’ club in the area, a magnet course and a healthy, vital sign of Basingstoke’s life.

This is a personal view not an official statement.

Ron Waller, Axford