Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Stonehaven golf course's major revamp to

boost membership and attract more visitors

A MAJOR revamp has taken place at Stonehaven golf course over the winter months in an effort to boost membership and attract more visitors.
The order of holes has been altered on the cliff-top course, where golf has been played since 1888, representing the biggest change since the club increased from nine holes to 18 holes in the early 1900s.
The main changes are:
◾️The holes over the "gully", the 13th, 14th and 15th, become the 5th, 6th and 7th holes.
◾️Players then walk under the railway line to play the 8th and 9th holes. This creates a new nine-hole layout which has much easier access back to the clubhouse than before.
◾️In the second half, holes 11 and 12 become 10 and 11, holes 5, 6, 7 and 8 become 12, 13, 14 and 15 before players complete their round along the existing holes 16, 17 and 18.
◾️The revamp means the new course, which has the same par of 66, now has two halves of 33 rather than 32-34.
Club captain Ivan Groundwater, who was elected at the club AGM in January, said the new lay-out was trialled over the winter months during which more than 100 members competed in the winter leagues.
A vote was held just before New Year and resulted in an overwhelming vote of support (more than 80 per cent) in favour.
Mr Groundwater said: "We believe there is a demand these days for members and visitors to have the option of playing nines holes of golf rather than 18, both in competitions and for pleasure, and that was the main reason for our change.
"The unique nature of our course, with spectacular cliffs running its length on one side, split one way with a gully and another way by the main Aberdeen railway line, has not changed but we believe the new layout makes better use of what we have.
"Golfers opting for nine holes now have just a short walk from the ninth green along part of the Den of Logie and back to the clubhouse.
"We think there will be a demand for this, especially as the golfing authorities have introduced new rules to allow nine-hole competitions for handicaps. This could appeal not only to older golfers, who may have trouble playing 18 holes, or to business people or husbands and wives, who may have only a couple of hours to devote to golf."
Nine-hole competitions, which count for handicaps, will be offered every Wednesday evening at Stonehaven to establish demand.
"It will be interesting to see how popular it proves and we will assess it after a time," said Mr Groundwater. "It is a new concept for golfers and we want to be as flexible as possible depending on what our members and visitors want."
The Stonehaven course covers an area of only about 66 acres, small for a golf course, and that meant a number of holes criss-crossed with others.
"Most of the time this does not cause a problem," Mr Groundwater said, "but one example where it was a problem at busy times was walking from the fourth green to the fifth tee across the 16th fairway.
"The change we have made gets rid of this altogether so that is another benefit."

Mr Groundwater also hoped the revamp might mean that older golfers could extend their playing life with the club by using the nine-hole lay-out.
He said: "The main climb faced by Stonehaven golfers is from the old sixth hole to the seventh green. As these holes are now in the second nine, older members can avoid the climb if they find it a problem by playing in our new nine-hole competitions and therefore keep their handicaps longer."



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