A GOLF club at the heart of a community for more than a century is to close – sparking fears about the future of the site.

Dwindling membership and financial struggles have forced Silsden Golf Club to call it a day.

The Brunthwaite Lane club, founded in 1911, will shut at the end of next month.

Members were told of the decision at an extraordinary general meeting.

Chairman and treasurer Martyn Twigg said the closure was "very sad" for everyone involved, but that the club couldn't continue as a viable concern.

"Throughout its history the course has survived thanks to the voluntary management by its members," he said.

"Over the years there have been several periods when survival was in question, but the course has developed from the original nine holes to firstly 14 and then to 18 in the late 1990s – when the old wooden clubhouse was also replaced with a much larger stone building, a development that was supported by the Sports Council.

"Unfortunately, completion of the expansion coincided with a general decline in golf's popularity and the club struggled with the upkeep of the facility over the next 15 years."

Mr Twigg said problems came to a head in 2013, when membership numbers had fallen to a level that couldn't sustain the mortgage payments and investment in the course. The committee was forced to sell the whole operation to pay off a mounting debt.

He added: "We were extremely fortunate in that a local businessman – Ian Hill – became the new owner and supported the club's future with an initial five-year lease, with much optimism for extended years after that.

"Moreover, he has supported the club in many ways since his arrival and invested in improvements along the way – and we are extremely grateful.

"However, despite the best efforts of our small but dedicated committee, the club has been faced with year-on-year declines in membership numbers to the point where – whilst 2019 presented many difficulties financially – it was clear that this year would be even worse and we could not continue as a viable entity.

"A decline in the popularity of golf, and the ever-increasing average age of players, is a national scenario that has seen many clubs go to the wall in the last decade.

"Nevertheless, whilst the closure of Silsden is very sad for all the members, it may go some way towards making some of our neighbouring clubs a little stronger as our membership moves on."

District and town councillor Adrian Naylor says the decision is a blow to the community.

And he is concerned about what will happen to the land.

"The site is green belt – which gives it a statutory protection against development – and as a golf course it is a well-managed area of countryside," said Cllr Naylor.

"It provides a recreational facility for Silsden and is the kind of thing we want to keep.

"I am concerned about what could happen regarding the future management of the land when it ceases to be a golf club."

Mr Hill didn't wish to comment.

David Peat – competition secretary with Bradford & District Union of Golf Clubs, an umbrella organisation for 26 clubs stretching from Skipton to Cleckheaton – said he was "extremely sad" at Silsden's pending closure.

"They've been losing members for a while and the sport has declined in popularity generally in the last few years – although you do find these things go in cycles," he added.

"There is a problem on the junior front. A lot of clubs are struggling to attract younger players – the average age of members has gone up substantially. It is a worrying trend."

Silsden's closure announcement comes almost exactly four years after Riddlesden Golf Club folded, with falling membership and increasing expenditure cited as the reasons.

That course has since been transformed into a Scouting activity site.