Niall McGill takes over Pitlochry Golf Club as it aims for recovery

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 4, 2020 14:13

Golf professional Niall McGill has been named the new director of golf at Pitlochry Golf Club in Perthshire, as the club, which is reliant on visitor income, hopes to bounce back from lockdown’s financial hit.

McGill, who headed up Noah’s Ark Golf Centre, replaces retiring general manager Mike Winton.

The 112-year-old club, which has been badly hit by the pandemic as it relies heavily on visitor income for its break-even financial model, has attracted 30 new members in recent weeks thanks to the surge in demand to play golf.

But Stephen Carruthers, Pitlochry Golf Club’s director, admitted the financial model had been shredded by the pandemic.

“In some ways it has brought everyone together because membership is up 10 percent – which is excellent for a town this size – and members have been rallying round to carry out essential maintenance since our course manager Stuart Griffiths was hospitalised by a serious accident.

From left to right: new director of golf Niall McGill, director Stephen Carruthers and pro Gary Casey at Pitlochry Golf Club

“For a small town, proportionately the number of new members committing to at least the next 18 months is impressive. Numbers in our intermediate category, up to age 40, are also encouraging.

“It has been a tough time because 60 percent of our annual income is down to visitors. We are looking at a six-figure hit between Pitlochry and Blair Atholl.

“We would have expected visitors from mid-March and we had none until things opened up over the last few weeks. So it has been catastrophic.

“We did get a £25,000 grant and furloughed staff, which has helped. And on a positive note, it has brought the club closer, nurturing a real sense of community.

“We are looking to the future now and hoping the surge in visiting party bookings continues.

“We are well-placed geographically here in Highland Perthshire and there is plenty of accommodation on our doorstep.

“It’s a challenging time but we have the right man in Niall McGill as director of golf.

“We might have been tempted to muddle along but I am confident Niall and pro Gary Casey will do a brilliant job and lead the bounce back.”

“It is a great opportunity for us and Gary. We are looking forward to driving Pitlochry forward,” stressed Niall.

“Between us we have around 60 years’ experience in golf, although, like everyone else, we’ve never faced anything remotely approaching the last few months.

“But we are looking forward to the rest of the season now.

“Noah’s Ark had been running the pro shop but I have a more all-encompassing role now.

From left to right: new director of golf Niall McGill, director Stephen Carruthers and pro Gary Casey at Pitlochry Golf Club

“We have a great golf course here. It has been hailed the world’s best course under 6,000 yards.

“Pitlochry is an appealing destination for day-trip golfers and stay-cationers, particularly with fourballs now allowed.

“Often visitors are golfers but not necessarily here on a specific golfing break. We are aiming to tap into this market, with brand new sets of TaylorMade and Titleist clubs available for hire.

“Membership has been growing and Gary has enjoyed a huge uplift in our junior section over the past year.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 4, 2020 14:13
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  1. Bertil August 9, 13:33

    Congrats Love that course!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Neil Sjoberg August 7, 00:05

    Wonderful news Niall-Good luck to you! Pitlochry is our favourite course in the world.Wew have been coming most years twice a year for over 50 years. Wherever we travel and work in the world we ultimately look towards Pitlochry

    Reply to this comment
  3. Peter August 4, 11:14

    Great success !! New leadership is always a ray of hope !! However, coming out of a global crisis like pandemic requires. Bold leadership, contrarian strategies and courage !! A great deal of courage, much more than normal times !!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Ken C August 2, 16:06

    Good luck with your new position Niall.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Wayne August 2, 11:05

    A fun course to play and one you can add in the itinerary on your drive to the Highlands. We were looked after well a few years ago at Pitlochry when our group of 12 Canadians visited. That first hole certainly has a long climb!

    Reply to this comment
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