World’s fifth oldest golf course is losing 1.5 metres of land per year to coastal erosion

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 20, 2018 14:11

A spokesman for the world’s fifth oldest golf course has said the venue may have to be moved inland as it is currently losing at least 1.5 metres a year.

This information comes as plans to build a controversial world-class golf course on ecologically important sand dunes in the north of Scotland may have been hit with the news that the course could also fall into the sea.

That coastal erosion warning is from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and comes just days after the Climate Coalition said that all of the UK’s links courses could disappear by 2100.

At Montrose, Rick Brown, captain of the Royal Montrose Golf Club that was established on the links in 1810, has sounded a warning that the course and the town of Montrose itself are under threat of flooding.

He said: “We have already taken some precautions with rock armour to protect the most vulnerable areas, the first green and second tee. We thought we were going to lose them at a recent high tide.

“We have lost the high tees at the third and we have had to build some new tees on the Medal Course but we have not really had the combination of high winds and high tides at the same time that we really fear will do a lot of damage.

“The links act as a flood barrier for Montrose, and we fear that if there is severe flooding then there’s a real threat to all the houses in the lower part of Montrose including an old folks’ residential home that’s four feet below us, not to mention the wildlife in the area that will cease to exist if the golf course isn’t there. We need action now.”

Chris Curnin, financial director at Montrose Golf Links Limited, added: “If Montrose does not receive government funding to protect the dunes, it would be a big, big problem. We would have to move the course inland. That would cost millions and would mean losing a slice of golfing history we won’t ever get back.”

Meanwhile, according to The Herald, SNH believes the proposed Coul Links course in Sutherland, which US property developers have applied for permission to build, is not sustainable because greens will be submerged by storms, sea and sand.

The agency’s north highland area officer, Alec Macdonald, warns that four tees – 15, 16, 17 and 18 – are particularly vulnerable to coast erosion, states the paper.

“Elements of the development cannot be adequately safeguarded over the lifetime of the development without the construction of coastal defences,” he said.

“The layout of the course fails to take into account the developer’s own advice, nor the clear evidence of increasing anticipated erosion during the lifetime of the development.”

Macdonald said the development breached Highland Council’s policies on coastal development and its duties on climate change.

Furthermore, SNH’s insect expert, Dr Athayde Tonhasca, cautioned that Coul Links could make the extremely rare Fonseca’s seed-fly extinct. “The species may eventually be wiped out from the whole coast as a consequence of the golf course development,” he said.

The paper adds that the developers have insisted that SNH’s advice had been taken into account and that “numerous changes” had been made to the course layout over the past two years. “With respect to the Fonseca’s seed-fly, we conducted the first ever site study and altered the layout of our course away from known locations,” said a spokesman for the developers, Todd Warnock and Mike Keiser.

“Further, we have agreed to fund an independent academic study of the species in a wide area ranging from Brora to southern Dornoch. We firmly believe our environmental strategy will result in an improvement in the Site of Scientific Interest as well as material economic benefit to an area in dire need of investment.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 20, 2018 14:11
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:

For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: