Six Scottish municipal courses could close "within weeks"

Hollandbush

There are growing concerns that six municipal golf courses in South Lanarkshire, which have a combined total of around 1,000 members, could fold within two weeks unless urgent action is taken.

Mags Cathcart, the manager at Hollandbush Golf Club in Lesmahagow, claims that no greenkeeping work has been carried out there or, indeed, at any of the other five local authority courses - Biggar, Larkhall, Torrance House, Langlands or Strathclyde Park - in the two months since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed.

Cathcart, 50, said: “Peter Craig, the chair of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, responded to local MP Lisa Cameron, who got involved on our behalf.

"He said the council greenkeeping staff were getting used for essential maintenance work elsewhere, such as refuse collection and grave digging.

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"But I know not one man from Hollandbush, Biggar or Larkhall, Torrance House, Langlands or Strathclyde Park has been doing essential work elsewhere. They’ve been sitting in the house."

Cathcart added that one greenkeeper has told her that the greens could be lost altogether in just a fortnight's time if nothing is done.

“That is really concerning," she added. "There’s a risk of disease to the greens. They’re not getting any nutrition. Now, the sun’s shining and they’re drying out.

“I think for a new green you’re talking in the region of £30,000. So imagine if you needed to replace 18 greens at any of these courses. They’re not going to open any of them back up.”

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Brian Reid has been a member of Hollandbush for over half a century, joining when he was just seven-years-old. He has described the current situation as "appalling".

"There is real fear that when the lockdown is lifted we will have no course to return to," he said.

Alan Gilchrist, the secretary of Langlands Golf Club, corroborated Mags Cathcart's claims, saying that no maintenance work has been carried out there since mid March.

"At this point, when there is no confirmed date for when this will resume, we are trying to reassure our members that there will be a course to return to," he told bunkered.co.uk. "However, this is becoming more difficult the longer this situation continues.

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"At the outset of the current lockdown, the council stated that all facilities would be closed until the end of May at the earliest. There have been no further updates to this.

"Our AGM takes place at the end of January, so a number of our members had renewed their membership before lockdown, approximately 70%. The 30% that haven't had cost the club approximately £8,000 in membership revenue."

Tartan Tour pro Craig Ronald, who grew up playing Torrance House, described the current situation as a "disgrace".

"Truth be told, Torrance House is one of the best golf courses in Scotland," he wrote on social media. "To be honest, the rest of these golf courses are all courses I have very fond memories of and [they] should not be disposed of for financial gain of councils."

Calling on South Lanarkshire Council to "do the right thing", the Carluke pro added: "I'm not working at the moment. Give me a machine and I'll cut the grass for nothing."

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In a statement obtained by bunkered.co.uk, South Lanarkshire Council Head of Facilities Waste and Grounds Services Alistair McKinnon said: “The council’s Grounds Services continue to provide essential services such as bereavement services and reduced street cleansing operations and this includes the servicing of litter bins which can be used for the disposal of litter and dog waste.

“The council continues to adhere to the Scottish Governments guidelines regarding the provision of services and golf course maintenance and grass cutting is considered non-essential. These operations continue to be suspended at this time. However, the council continues to review advice and guidance and is investigating the areas of service provision that we could restart in the short term should the guidance allow.”

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