The cost of playing on Birmingham’s loss-making city council golf courses is to rise by up to 25 per cent.
Council officials say the hefty jump is part of a fundamental review of the seven municipal courses and will lead to a “simplified” pricing structure.
But the chairman of the leisure scrutiny committee said he feared that even fewer golfers would be prepared to pay the new fees.
John Alden pointed out that targets for the number of people expected to use the courses were not being achieved.
“This is contributing to a black hole in the leisure budget, and if charges are increased even further that hole will grow larger and may mean we have to have cuts in other services,” Coun Alden (Con Harborne) warned.
People who want to play nine holes of golf after work will be hit hardest as the £8 weekday fee is set to jump to £10 from April 1.
And the cost of playing 18 holes will rise by 14 per cent to £16.
The council’s leisure department has defended the decision, pointing out that the city’s municipal golf courses lose more than £500,000 a year. Bad weather in the summer has been blamed for a fall in the number of people playing.
An increase in pay-and-play courses – there are now 100 within easy driving distance of Birmingham – is putting the council under further pressure.
While costs in some areas will be frozen – including borrowing CDs from libraries, swimming, badminton and squash – hefty increases are proposed for other services.
Footballers, cricketers, hockey and rugby players will pay up to seven per cent more to hire pitches. A game of bowls will rise by 6.5 per cent, fishing by 5.8 per cent and 8.3 per cent for the hire of a child’s paddle boat in a park.
Some of the heftiest increases will apply at nature centres, with entry fees rising by as much as 76 per cent.
Coun Ray Hassall (Lib Dem Perry Barr) pointed out that it would still be possible for children, pensioners and people on benefit to play 18 holes of golf for £10, with a Passport to Leisure card.
He added: “We plan to spend £800,000 on improving our golf courses over the next three years.”
But Coun Muhammad Afzal (Lab Aston) said: “People should be encouraged to take part in sporting activities, yet we are increasing charges way above inflation.”