Bentham Golf Club is to become greener, says new owner Thomas Marshall.

Mr Marshall, who also owns Riverside Caravan Site, in Bentham, bought the club in December and is planning conservation changes.

His caravan site is renowned for its conservation work and has won acclaim from botanist David Bellamy. And, last month, Mr Marshall was awarded the Achievement for Conservation and Landscape Management – one of only 20 UK parks to do so. The award celebrates the family’s efforts to encourage wildlife and protect the natural world.

This expertise will be brought to the golf club, coupled with a cash investment in an up-to-date and larger clubhouse and function room.

Mr Marshall says this year he will “sit back and see how things go”. “I have several plans,” he said. “We want it to work as a business while providing a facility that draws visitors.

“This can be achieved by creating accommodation and providing more facilities, such as a driving range. There is a planning application in for a bigger function room that could cater for parties of 40 or more.

“There are conservation and green elements we can introduce, such as planting for wildlife and solar panels to heat the water. And we can look at methods to utilise the energy used to keep the cellar cool.

“Money needs to be invested, but the club has potential. It is a business investment and has to make money. We have introduced quite a structured policy for junior and intermediate members so we can encourage young people to learn to play and stay with us.”

Mr Marshall said his plans would provide jobs, such as in catering and green-keeping, which he hoped would involve local young people.

The club began in 1922 when five local men played five holes at Park Foot, between Bentham and Ingleton. It moved to its Bentham Moor site later that year. Three years later, the nine-hole Bentham Golf Club Ltd was created. Most of the land was bought and the field for two holes was rented.

A wooden clubhouse and veranda followed and it was classed as one of the UK’s top 100 clubs for views.

Problems began after a seven-year loan was taken out in 2003 to extend the club to an 18-hole course. Repayments became a problem when membership began to slide.

In 2006, board members took out a 25-year financial package. But then came the recession and, last year, several members chose not to renew their membership, bringing more pressure.

“The board put the club on the market last summer,” said club president David Crutchley. “We received two bids. Mr Marshall was the successful bidder and took over in December.

“We are delighted Bentham Golf Club is going to continue as a first-class facility and pleased that it is in the hands of a local person.”