Shropshire Star

Shropshire golf club row seen by millions on social media

A row between two men and the golf club they used to play for has exploded across social media, attracting millions of views on TikTok.

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Playing golf in the clouds on Church Stretton golf course

Jon Gidney and Robert Donaldson have launched a campaign on both the Chinese-owned video site and Meta-owned Instagram to be able to play again at Church Stretton Golf Club.

But the golf club is showing no signs of changing its mind and insists that a playing ban remains in place at the club which is this year celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Marketing consultant Mr Gidney, aged 35, from Church Stretton, agreed an out of a tribunal settlement with the club in 2017 after making a complaint of age discrimination. He has the support of Mr Donaldson, 68, who is a retired civil servant.

The club insists however that the ban remains in place for the two men.

Jon Gidney pictured in 2016

Things have got very heated and bitter between the two sides, with claims being met by counter claims. Several videos have been posted of confrontations involving the two men at the golf club.

In one particular encounter seen by more than 3.5 million people on TikTok, Mr Gidney and Mr Donaldson insisted with a club official that they had the right to play on the course. The official did not give a reason for the ban.

But the official insisted that they were banned and asked them to leave the club, which is on National Trust land.

Mr Gidney told the Shropshire Star that he had been "unfairly prevented from playing at our local golf club for the last eight years".

A former golfing professional, he plays off a handicap of two and says he represented the club many times and even holds the course record.

Mr Gidney and Mr Donaldson say the dispute started when Mr Gidney successfully brought in new sponsorship money to the club and had plans which ruffled some feathers.

They say that after eight years of being unfairly banned they have decided to go public with their cause.

"It is being run like a private little clique and a dictatorship," they say.

"They signed a settlement agreement in 2017 where they agreed to end the ban but it hasn't happened," said Mr Gidney.

A spokesman for the club, who did not wish to be named, insisted that the ban would remain in place. He claimed that the agreement was made between the club's insurance company and did not mean the ban had to be lifted.

The Shropshire Star asked the spokesman several times what Mr Gidney and Mr Donaldson would have to do to have the ban lifted. But he insisted that it would not happen.

The spokesman said people at the club had been affected by the row in a year when they wished to be able to celebrate their significant anniversary.

A statement on the club's website says they are "taking steps to report" Mr Gidney and Mr Donaldson's Instagram account to the social media company.

It reads: "We have been made aware that there is an Instagram account (church_stretton_golf) that has been set up.

"That account was not set up by Church Stretton Golf Club.

"It is not an official account which is administered by anyone associated with Church Stretton Golf Club.

"That being the case, the club’s board and management committee has no control over the content or views posted on that account and we are taking steps to report that account to Instagram.

"To keep up to date with news about Church Stretton Golf Club, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook and on the Club’s official Instagram account."

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