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More than 100 Scottish golf courses are dealing with the effects – or soon will be dealing with the effects – of coastal erosion.

The BBC is reporting that the impact of rising sea levels and an increase in storm activity is threatening the existence of several of the country’s top layouts.

Courses on the east coast have been particularly badly impacted, with Montrose Golf Links having lost seven metres (23ft) to the sea in the last year alone.

The club’s former chairman John Adams told the BBC: “It was envisaged we’d lose maybe one metre, maybe one-and-a-half metres, per year but we’ve just lost seven metres in one year.

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“If we lose another seven metres, it is on the middle of the fairway. In a decade, it is gone and, if it keeps coming, it will go into the town.

“The third tee was moved in 2017 but that has already gone. What’s happening here is literally reshaping the map.”

Half a million pounds has been allocated to help build stronger defences this year but the fear is that this may only be a temporary solution.

Other courses in immediate danger including Fortrose & Rosemarkie in the Highlands, which set up an emergency crowdfunding campaign after losing six metres of ground to storms late last year.

Martin Hurst, from the University of Glasgow, has been studying Scotland’s changing coastline and says that the sea is creeping in much quicker than was originally forecast.

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“If the current worst-case scenario with rising sea levels is realised, we’re expecting something like 85 metres (279ft) of erosion there by 2050,” he said.

“That seems to be our current trajectory.”

The problem, of course, is not unique to Scotland. Alnmouth Village Golf Course in Northumberland, home to the oldest nine-hole links course in England, has seen large sections of its course fall into the sea in recent times, whilst Royal North Devon at the opposite end of the country has faced its own challenges, too.

In 2018, the oldest course in England, affectionately regarded as the “St Andrews of the South”, accused the Government of “abandoning us to the ocean” after being devastated by Storm Eleanor.


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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