The R&A has submitted a planning application to Glasgow City Council for the construction of a new community golf facility it hopes to open in Scotland’s biggest city in the summer of 2022.
The project aims to redevelop the existing public course at Lethamhill – one of six municipal courses in the city boundaries – to create “a family-focussed venue” that comprises a nine-hole course, a Par 3 course, putting greens, short game area, adventure golf and a 25-bay floodlit driving range.
Additional features including a café, fitness studio, indoor simulator and movie theatre, whilst an education room and retail area are included in the plans as part of a “Central Hub” that would offer views north over nearby Hogganfield Loch to the Campsie Fells and south towards the city of Glasgow.
It’s unclear how much all of these amenities will cost the R&A but some reports have suggested the investment could be as much as £10million
The news that the development has reached the planning stage comes almost a year to the day after Lethamhill, along with four of its fellow Glasgow munis, was left facing up to the very real prospect of closure.
Budget cuts approved at a city council meeting last February proposed to retain only the nine-hole course at Knightswood in the west of the city, with Lethamhill, Littlehill and Linn Park, as well as Alexandra Park and Ruchill, flagged for “reprovisioning”.
Last August, we reported that the R&A was in advanced talks to acquire Lethamhill from city authorities and transform it into a community golf centre, designed to help deliver the organisation's 'Grow The Game' message.
Those proposals were rubber-stamped by Glasgow City Council, with the sale – reported to have been worth £200,000 – completed in September
It is also understood that the R&A has an option to purchase Littlehill Golf Course within the next three years.
For the time being, however, the focus is firmly on Lethamhill.
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “We want to make golf more welcoming and inclusive for people of all ages and backgrounds and so we need to appeal to them by offering a variety of fun and affordable activities that entice more families and young people into the sport.
“We are excited by the prospect of establishing a facility in the very heart of the local community in north-east Glasgow that provides an accessible pathway into golf and inspires people to get out, have fun and experience the many health benefits that playing golf with family and friends can provide.
In collaboration with Glasgow Life, the views of local stakeholders including current golfers, community groups and elected representatives are being considered to assist in shaping the development of the facility to create a destination that truly appeals to local people.
Work is also being carried out with the Golf Foundation and Scottish Golf to devise future participation and education programmes that use Glasgow Life’s existing Active Schools network to connect local schools with the new facility and inspire young people to experience playing golf in a fun and relaxed environment.
Councillor David McDonald, the Chair of Glasgow Life and Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council, added: “This project is a great example of innovative thinking which protects and enhances resources relied on by the local communities and the whole city. It delivers an incredible facility for golfers while at the same time offering families more opportunities to discover the joy and health benefits of taking part in sport.
“The prospect of creating such a fantastic venue in what is already a well-used hub is something everyone can be very enthusiastic about, and we’re looking forward to working with The R&A and engaging with groups and clubs in the local area to develop a facility which is the first of its kind in Glasgow."
The R&A has also been working closely with the Seven Lochs Partnership and leading sustainability professionals to establish clear commitments to delivering positive environmental, health and social benefits to the local community and ensure best practice in sustainability is used throughout the facility.
A new network of public nature trails that link into existing walking routes of the Seven Lochs Wetland Park is being planned for use by visitors to the urban heritage and nature park, which seeks to promote health and well-being and enhance biodiversity.
Councillor Maureen Burke, the chair of the Seven Lochs Partnership, said: “The R&A’s plans for Lethamhill will be a fantastic addition to the Seven Lochs Wetland Park and will help to make the park a great place to discover and explore nature on your doorstep.
“This is a great opportunity to show how golf can promote wider well-being and environmental benefits and we look forward to working closely with The R&A to create new habitats for wildlife, design nature trails around the golf course and develop outdoor learning activities for local schools.