Golf club members shun media glare to elect new officials

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The Independent Online
AS POWER struggles go, the one played out at Northwood Golf Club yesterday made the Night of the Long Knives look like a bun fight. Northwood's 300 or so members, summoned extraordinarily from across John Betjeman's Metroland in north-west London, last night elected a new board of directors in the wake of a fly-on-the-wall documentary which heaped humiliation on the club.

Last month, the 103-year-old club's accustomed suburban calm, traditionally punctuated only by the odd raised voice about failing to replace to divots on the fairway, was shattered by an episode in Channel 4's Cutting Edge series.

After the film was shown, members demanded the club's directors explain how their beloved institution had been transformed into a peep show in which their 'gentlemen's traditions' and golfing prowess were mocked in equal measure. Rank-and-file discontent culminated in the circulation of a 100-signature petition demanding the directors' resignation. Although the petition was not formally presented, all eight directors, including the chairman, Bryan Lund, stepped down.

Last night's extraordinary general meeting elected their replacements and heard the original board express its 'regret' over the 'distress and embarrassment' caused by the film. Mr Lund said the meeting had been called to 'explain the full facts of the situation', and that the board's resignation was 'a response to an unusual situation. We chose to resign to allow the members to decide.'

Mr Lund felt the club had been duped by the film makers, Brian Hill and Kate Woods, who were also responsible for turning the Australian couple, Noeline and Laurie Donaher, into the most ridiculed family in Sylvania Waters. 'We were promised the film would show the club enhancing the enjoyment of the sport for members.' Examination of the film makers' proposal to the club reveals they did indeed suggest that 'the primary aim (of the programme) is to show how membership of that sporting fraternity enhances the lives of its followers.'

Reporters were predictably barred from the clubhouse last night. 'No outsiders', the secretary's office said. And now well-versed in the ways of the media, most members trooped in and out delivering their 'no comments' like veterans. Those who spoke had few regrets that a board responsible for such a 'gross error of judgement' had gone but some expressed relief that the debacle was over.