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Glenisla golf course to close this month

EXCLUSIVE

Glenisla Golf Club - David J Whyte © Linksland.com (1)

• Perthshire course to shut this month
• Staff informed of the decision last week
• “It is absolutely devastating” says club employee

SCOTTISH GOLF | GLENISLA

Glenisla, is set to close at the end of this month, bunkered.co.uk has learned.

The 18-hole course, near Alyth, was sold to housing developers last week, with staff informed of the news at a meeting last Friday. It will close its doors for the last time on October 31.

Glenisla opened in 1995 and was designed by Tony Wardle, a golf course architect who has worked alongside the likes of Robert Trent Jones and Jack Nicklaus. Developed originally by the Glenshee Chairlift Company as a summer business to make use of its full-time ski employees during the off-season, it was bought out of receivership by the Somerville family in 2004.

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Glenisla Golf Club - David J Whyte © Linksland.com

In 2014, it was recognised for its value for money at the Scottish Golf Tourism Awards.

It currently has around 150 members, all of whom will now have to find somewhere else to play.

Speaking to bunkered.co.uk, club employee Pat Heys described the news as ‘absolutely devastating’.

“As you can imagine, everybody is very upset” – Pat Heys, Glenisla employee

“The course had been up for sale for some time before coming off the market,” explained Heys. “So, it came as a real shock to everyone to be called into a meeting on Friday where we told that the sale of the land to a property developer had been completed the day before. As you can imagine, everybody is very upset.

Glenisla currently employs around a dozen full-time staff. “I’m close to retirement but you feel for people like our greenkeepers who have young families to provide for and who now need to find other work,” added Heys. “It’s terribly sad. We have been told that there’s a chance a new nine-hole course may be developed on the site at some point in the future but, if that happens, it would be years from now.”

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Glenisla Golf Club - David J Whyte © Linksland.com (2)

Heys went on to say that the course had fallen victim in recent years to a value-driven society.

“Everybody wants a deal these days,” she said. “Nobody wants to pay the full rate. It’s understandable but it still makes things hard and drives prices down. It’s unfortunate that it has come to this but it has happened now and there’s nothing we can do.”

Read more -> BLOG: ‘Less talk, more action required in Scottish Golf’

Glenisla is the latest Scottish golf course to close in recent years, following the likes of Lothianburn, Torphin Hills, Kames and Rutherford Castle. The latter closed at the start of 2015, at which point it reportedly had only 56 members.

Castle Park, in East Lothian, also closed its doors at the beginning of the start of 2015 only to re-open weeks later, whilst Whitekirk Country Club, also in East Lothian, closed ‘temporarily’ in February this year. There are indications of when – indeed, if – it might re-open.

Glenisla to close – your thoughts

What do you make of the news that Glenisla is set to shut its doors this month? Have you played there? What have been your experiences of it? Leave your thoughts in our ‘Comments’ section below.

Michael McEwan

Michael McEwan

Assistant Editor at bunkered golf magazine
Michael McEwan is the assistant editor of bunkered and its sister publications Scottish Club Golfer and English Club Golfer. He is also a frequent contributor to www.bunkered.co.uk.
Michael McEwan

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24 Comments

  1. David Cuthbert

    October 5, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    This is really sad news for Golf. When a course like Glenisla (designed for the pay and play market) closes it shows that no golf course is immune. This was a great place to play – ideal for outings and always very hospitable.

    Membership clubs should be worried – If a club designed for Nomads fails then it surely sends a signal that more (membership) clubs are likely to follow.

    Clubs need to act and act now. Too many ‘head in the sand’ attitudes and no joined up thinking. Stop working for yourselves, work together, collaborate, share is the only way forward.

    David

  2. Craig shearer

    October 5, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    This is a real shame. Glen Isla was our “home” course for our work outing.
    We always had a great time there, the course and staff were always excellent.
    I’ll miss playing there.

  3. chris meek

    October 5, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    150 members wont keep a club open and people need to realise you need young blood joining every year. Planning open days for school kids etc, free tuition etc should be made available…you cant rely on visitors unless you are an important club so try growing the members. I’m a member at Bathgate and our pro Stuart Callan has spent most of his time getting kids involved and the parents love to see there kids getting better and taking up a sport most can learn quickly.

  4. Bobby warren

    October 5, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Sad to say that this probably won’t be the last course to close. So many clubs are struggling to keep their heads above water that the inevitable will happen. It has to be said that most clubs are run by enthusiastic amateurs although most have some business acumen but in a totally different sphere is it good enough to generate business from outside its shell, sadly it won’t be.

  5. thomas ryan

    October 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Played at Glenisla recently with a bunkered voucher so it was a free game which probably contributed to its demise. Course was in great nick, sad to see it go.

  6. Lynne Baxter

    October 5, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Glenisla was a great destination for a weekend away and the clubhouse was a lovely design and had beautiful views. However the owners did not invest in the facilities and they were getting tatty. The clubhouse could be the venue of a gastopub but they had repeated problems with catering staff meaning if you stayed sometimes you did not even get a decent breakfast. So lack of decent ownership and lack of management have caused a lovely course to close.

  7. Angus eaglesham

    October 5, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Have played course6 times as far back as2 or 3 year of opening played the last 3yrs with a frien and will be sorry to miss it this year

  8. Jim Flood

    October 5, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Really sad news. We have played Glenisla a few times over the last 3 years, usually on available Food and Round deals. It has always been a good day out for us and a pretty good test. We will certainly miss this one it is great value, very friendly and without the pretentiousness that some others seem to portray

  9. Mark B.

    October 5, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    If glenisla concentrated on getting members through the doors rather than trying to get group bookings then they would be still in business. A great course with lots of potential but people running the business who did not have a clue about golf. A real shame for the area but I have no sympathy for them at all!

  10. Glenisla Fan

    October 5, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Hear hear… General Manager(if that’s what you could called her) was the demise of this business. Treated her members like second class citizens and thought that business would run its self. She more a PART TIME BOOKEEPER than a General Manger, how she got away with it for so long astounds me.

  11. Donald macleod

    October 5, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    The reason for thre demise of this golf course isnt anything like people wanting cheap deals.I asked for the price to join 1i months ago for six people im still waiting ,members have left in their droves.This all down not bad management but no management the manageress finishes at 2 so theirs no food for the golfers.My niece and her man built up a good catering business for them and the club just be shut down,probably embarressed her.Badly run thats why its shutting and its been going on for years.

  12. Andrew Sunter

    October 6, 2016 at 6:56 am

    There are 3 courses at alyth and that’s at least one too many for such a wee place. It’s a nice track but it’s never been remotely busy the couple of times I’ve been there so sadly this is not a surprise

  13. jim imrie

    October 6, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Played this course on several occaisions, and was last there in september this year with my Bunker ticket. I have always enjoyed a round of golf there, but have to on my last trip there the course was in stunning condition, with high praise to the condition of the greens. I dare say due to the fact that it is surrounded by a few other lovely courses it would have added to its demise
    Such a shame to see this course close . It will be missed by many I am sure.

  14. Frankie Thomson

    October 6, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Very sad day for golf. Played this beautiful course and enjoyed a very memorable days golfing. Feel sorry for the staff as they were very welcoming to us. Stunning course in beautiful condition. This surely must be a wake up call to all golf clubs. Golf clubs at times take their members for granted. Golf is a privileged and expensive hobby. Everybody likes a deal and it’s now time to take this on board or it could be your club that is next in line to close. If a course like Glenisla closes, who will be next ?.

  15. Ian Forbes

    October 6, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Played there many times, including a few club and society outings, always made very welcoome and the course was always in great condition, very sad

  16. James

    October 6, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Played this course many times over the last few years, yes with vouchers, why not when golf membership is X pensive on our home courses anyway, loved the course one of the best kept I have played, really sad to see it go, won’t be the last though, I wish all the staff all the best for the future.

  17. Chris D

    October 9, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    With 3 courses in such a small area ( Alyth & Strathmore) Glenisla was the first to go. Scotlands problem is the same as its football clubs – too many for the population to support. I played Glenisla once, it was an OK course, nothing too special. I would expect the other two courses to improve as members go to them and provide them with the capital to improve. Golfing equivalent to ‘natural selection!’

  18. C

    October 10, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Management ruined Glenisla must be over 10 staff sacked or replaced each year caterers could not stand management 2 or 3 new caterers each year always the same story “they were not up to the job” whereas it was the management that were not up to the job. To run a golf club you need to know about golf, thats the answer

  19. george kay

    October 16, 2016 at 11:50 am

    played Glenisia for first time last month really enjoyed the course which was in very good condition, how sad to see a very good course close

  20. jason starrs

    October 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    just learned glenisla course has closed. very sad had some great days their with my friends.

    ominous for other clubs.

  21. David McGrath

    October 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    We used our Bunkered Voucher to play there today. Played before in 2014, enjoyed the course and facilities. Today the kitchen has been ripped out, so no food, but the course is in fantastic condition! All credit to the head greenkeeper and his staff.
    Lovely course and a shame to lose it, and for people to lose their jobs, but I can’t understand why in a quiet area, a course opens up directly across the road from another!?
    What were the planners thinking allowing that to begin with?
    Unfortunately, not the money to go around today as there was then.
    Hopefully the slide in course closures will ease or cease completely.

  22. Glyn Ollier

    October 27, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I played the Scottish Pairs Challenge this September and found this course by far the worst of the five we played on.
    The area is overcrowded with golf courses where some seem to rely a lot on visitors green fees to survive.
    Unfortunately, for Glenisla, most ,like me, would choose to visit one of the other courses in the area.
    Survival of the fittest is apparent in this case after reading some of the other comments.
    Hopefully the 150 members move on to other courses in the area and boost their memberships.

  23. Scott Irving

    October 31, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Played this course in the summer as part of the Scottish golf show free tickets. Coming from glasgow we enjoyed the drive up when we arrived at the course we were impressed with the layout and look of the course and the staff were really friendly. We had a great day on the course in the sunshine it’s sad we won’t have a opportunity to play this course again as we were planning to play early next summer

  24. Fraser Donaldson

    November 2, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Sorry to hear of another club closing but 3 courses close together is not ideal.

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