A dreadful month for Scottish golf clubs – but there is hope

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 27, 2019 04:24

Here’s three ways the Scottish golf industry is coping with the difficulties it is currently facing according to The Golf Business editor Alistair Dunsmuir.

Scottish golf clubs collectively lost 75,000 members between 2005 and 2017, a drop of more than 28 per cent to 190,000 members in total, with predictions that this fall will continue for at least another decade.

Another historic Scottish golf course closes down

In the last few months Eastwood Golf Club, Brunston Castle Golf Club and Carrick Knowe Golf Club have all closed down, while August was a particularly devastating month as both Mount Ellen Golf Club closed and Camperdown Golf Course announced it will close next year.

‘One of Scotland’s best public golf courses’ to close next year

However, there is hope, as August also saw the following:

Scottish GPs could start prescribing golf

Government agency Sport Scotland has held talks with Scottish Golf about the possibility of replicating projects in London where GPs prescribe rounds of golf to patients with heart disease or respiratory problems.

Scottish Golf CEO calls for doctors to prescribe golf

Scottish Golf CEO Andrew McKinlany said: “We all know we have huge problems with health in this country and I think golf could be a huge force for good in that.”

Topgolf is coming to Scotland

Topgolf centres are driving ranges in which there is a focus on entertainment, and they’ve been hugely successful at three locations in England.

Scotland’s first Topgolf centre to feature three-tiered driving range

One is now coming to Scotland, and it will feature a three-tiered range where people can play games against each other due to microchips in the balls, plus there will be a sports bar, lounge, an events hall and a restaurant.

Scottish clubs are building houses

This is a proven way to generate much-needed revenue and at least four Scottish clubs (Ballumbie Castle, Kingsknowe, Williamwood and Bearsden) have applied for planning permission to build properties on disused land they own or overlooking their courses.

Glasgow golf club hoping to build flats to generate revenue

Some are very clear why they are doing this. Williamwood Golf Club (below), for example, says without this ‘the club may become unsustainable’, while Bearsden Golf Club’s captain added: ‘Without selling the land, the future of the club becomes highly uncertain’.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 27, 2019 04:24
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  1. Louise September 3, 13:01

    Do you think a lack of modernisation, diversification and failure to effectively utilise social media has played a part in their demise? It would seem that ‘off course’ social/leisure golf is gathering players at a staggering momentum, and the more forward-thinking and open-minded courses and business ventures who have embraced these trends are thriving over their more traditional competitors.

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  2. Douglas August 29, 11:36

    There continues to be a misconception about Carrick Knowe. Scottish municipal golf courses have clubs that play over a particular course. This means that sometimes there can be several clubs playing over a particular course eg in Troon and Ayr. Golfers pay to be members of a club and pay a separate fee to the local council to play on the golf course. At Carrick Knowe as in Troon and Ayr the courses are still there; it is ‘only’ a club that has closed in Edinburgh.

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