Edinburgh municipal courses record huge spike in demand

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Scotland’s grassroots golf resurgence shows no signs of slowing down, with public golf courses in Edinburgh reporting record-breaking membership numbers.

Edinburgh Leisure has experienced a major boost in the demand for its municipal courses, reporting a 400% increase in uptake of its winter golf membership.

The winter membership plan ran from October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 and proved a huge hit with local golfers.

The charity organisation, which operates the six municipal courses in Edinburgh, including Silverknowes, Braid Hills and Carrick Knowe, has said that is has seen an increased number of players at every one of its courses since the global pandemic began.

“While restrictions during lockdown meant many sports had to close, it has been refreshing to see so many people visiting our six Edinburgh Leisure golf clubs,” David Atkinson, golf and grounds maintenance manager at Edinburgh Leisure told bunkered.co.uk.

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“The benefits of having an Edinburgh Leisure golf membership compared to membership of just one golf club or course, is value for money and the opportunity to play a variety of courses across the city.”

Another unnamed source told bunkered.co.uk that the number of new members that Edinburgh Leisure had taken in was somewhere in the region of 1,500 people and that there was now not enough tee times across the six municipal courses to cope with the demand.

To help deal with the volume of people playing the courses, Edinburgh Leisure has installed a 10-minute interval tee time system, which they say has been well received and has reduced on-course wait times.

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As well as an added number of people playing Edinburgh Leisure courses, the organisation has revealed that they are noticing a changing demographic taking up the game.

Membership remains largely male, but women now make up 13% of Edinburgh Leisure's members, while now just under a quarter of customers are aged 16-44 years old - an increase of 9% on the previous year. The majority of customers (45%) are aged 45-64, while 31% of the capital’s muni membership is 65 and over.

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With heavy lockdown restrictions in place across the nation since last year, Edinurgh Leisure attributes the desire for exercise a reason for golf's membership surge.

“Never before has health and wellbeing been so important,” added Atkinson. “Taking advantage of being able to get out in the fresh air, and for some possibly trying golf for the first time, obviously has so many benefits for people’s physical and mental health.”

Edinburgh Leisure has itself adapted well amid the pandemic, moving to a fully online booking system. Pre COVID-19, less than 5% of bookings for Edinburgh’s municipal courses were made online, which has now shifted to 100% in 2021.

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