A member of the Scottish Parliament has told bunkered.co.uk of his fear that five of Glasgow’s six closure-threatened courses will be sold off to property developers – a prospect he has described as “scandalous” and “an affront” to Scotland’s biggest city.
James Kelly was responding to yesterday’s Glasgow City Council budget meeting, which saw proposals tabled by the SNP and Green Party passed in favour of alternatives put forth by both the Labour Party and Conservative Party.
Within the SNP/Green plans is a provision for the nine-hole course at Knightswood to be retained under the management of Glasgow Life.
However, the five other courses currently operated by the local authority – Linn Park, Lethamhill, Littlehill, Alexandra Park and Ruchill – face a less certain future, with the closure of all five a real possibility unless suitable new arrangements can be found.
Glasgow Life is required to look into other models for continued golf provision at those locations. However, there is concern among the golfers who use these facilities that a decision to sell the land to property developers.
That is a worry shared by Labour MSP Kelly.
“It is time for Glasgow Life to open its eyes and ears and listen to the other options that are on the table,” he told us. “However, what frustrates me is my sense that they are not open to the ideas that are being put in front of them.
“It would be scandalous if they sold off the land these courses are on. It would be an affront to the city’s reputation and that of Scotland as the home of golf, particularly given the long-standing history that several of these courses have.
“It feels as though Glasgow Life is cutting its ties with these courses and the budget decision yesterday has not given any assurances to the golfers who use them. Closing these courses would be a real negative step for golf and sport in Glasgow and it can still be turned around – but that now largely depends on Glasgow Life.”
Mr Kelly added that people would be entitled to ask serious questions of elected officials at both local and national level with these threatened closures coming so soon after Glasgow and Scotland profited from four high-profile international sporting events: the 2014 Ryder Cup, 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2018 European Championships and 2019 Solheim Cup.
“It is staggering that we are in this position on the back of these events,” he said. “There is also the possibility that the loss of these facilities would place further strain on vital public services that have also suffered from cuts and are over-stretched as it is. I have spoken to a lot the city’s golfers in recent months and they have extolled to me the benefits, both physical and mental, that they get from using these public courses.
“If you start to strip that away, you are only going to put extra strain on the likes of the NHS.”
Mr. Kelly added that he would be using his position at Holyrood to take the issue forward with Glasgow Life with a view to saving the courses.
Glasgow Life has not yet responded to bunkered.co.uk’s request for a comment.
A Scottish Government spokesperson told us: “We are committed to improving opportunities to participate, progress and achieve in sport. We are also committed to furthering Scotland’s reputation as the home of golf and to widening participation in golf. That is why we have supported major events such as the Solheim Cup in 2019. “We will continue to support sports and golf events which provide opportunities for a new generation of young people to take up golf and get involved in sport more generally.”