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Thomas Waldall

One of the regulars at Carrick Knowe is Thomas Waldall (above), 82, who plays five times a week and pays an annual fee of £340. What’s more, this membership gives him access to all six Edinburgh Leisure courses - Carrick Knowe, Braid Hills, Wee Braids, Portobello, Silverknowes and Craigentinny - while he pays an extra £60 subsidy to be a member of the affiliated Carrick Knowe Golf Club, giving him clubhouse access and the ability to play in weekly medals and get a handicap.

“I would die without playing golf,” he says matter-of-factly. “I give myself just Sundays and Tuesdays off. It’s what keeps me going - I’ve got my golf and my garden.

“I’ve been playing here for nearly 50 years now as I took up golf here when I was 34. I’d never even thought about taking it up before then. My brother-in-law took me out one day and it was incredible. I’ve never had a lesson but I could do with one now!”

It’s 10.30am on a Thursday morning and the small reception area is bustling with golfers meeting up for a coffee ahead of their rounds, before laughter breaks out and Thomas is being grappled jokingly by starter Alan Pettigrew, himself just in from a quick few holes before starting work at 11am.

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What is evident in a short time observing is the bond Alan and his colleague Caroline Black (above) have built up with their regular customers, and he explains that he sees the building of those relationships as a key part of his job.

“It makes it much easier for the golfers to come in if you’ve got a good rapport with them,” he said.

“Some of the guys, when they first came in here, were really quite timid and didn’t say much but once you get to know them, you see a completely different and good side.

“And you don’t half hear some stories. The stories they have, you’re just sitting there giggling and most of the time you go home with sore ribs because you’ve giggled that much.

“But you can tell golf is hugely important for them. Obviously if you just sit in your house, your body shuts down.

“I’ve seen it many times in my working life with guys that retire and then, six months later, they’re sadly no longer with us.”

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