Ambitious plans to safeguard the future of Glasgow’s municipal courses and use them to help improve participation and membership rates at clubs across the country were flatly rejected by city councillors, bunkered.co.uk can reveal.
A Glasgow-based PGA professional has told us how proposals to reinvigorate the game in Scotland’s biggest city were undone by a lack of support from within the City Chambers.
Last week, we reportedthat Littlehill, Lethamhill and Linn Park, as well as Ruchill and Alexandra Park, have been earmarked for closure as part of a plan to plug a so-called financial “black hole”.
Only the nine-hole layout at Knightswood is likely to be saved.
The proposals are expected to be fully outlined at a budget meeting on February 20 and follow a public consultation into the future of the courses carried out by city officials last summer.
The pro we spoke to, who has asked not to be named, explained how he had plans to develop a new TopGolf-style driving range near the Riverside Museum on the banks of the River Clyde. It was intended to be a place for people to enjoy driving range-based games, as well as drinks, food and more.
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Beginners to the game, who were interested in developing their skills, would then be funneled through the city’s municipal courses, where they would be able to perfect their skills with the support of local professionals. The courses would also be used to deliver a junior golf programme through the national curriculum and local schools.
The hope was that players would then go on to join private clubs, helping to stem the membership attrition rate.
The city’s municipal courses were identified as being central to these plans as they would provide a less intimidating environment for beginners.
However, our source told bunkered.co.uk that, despite getting widespread support for his plans, the idea hit the buffers after he met with officials from Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life last year.
To advance his idea, he required the support from the local authority. Instead, he says he was met with indifference.
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“The representative from Glasgow City Council, in particular, showed a total lack of interest in the proposal until I mentioned return on investment," he said.
Asked if he got the impression that a decision had already been made to close at least some of the courses, he added: “Yes, although they were at pains to tell me that wasn’t the case.”
Our source believes that by closing the courses, Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life would be “taking the easy way out” and overlooking the potentially huge benefits of keeping them open.
“If we continue to shut down and not have proper sports facilities, we’re only going to suffer,” he said. “The impact will add strain on other services, such as the NHS. It’s proven that sport also helps you learn, so we’d be doing our young people a disservice.”
A spokesperson for Glasgow Life, which operates the courses on behalf of the city council, told bunkered.co.uk that “no decision has been made on future golf provision in Glasgow”.