Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Courses closed the length and breadth of Scotland

Golf clubs and pros count the cost of

our Siberian-type winter weather

These are hard times not only for club golfers but for the club professionals and golf clubs alike with little or no income as the Siberian-type weather closes courses the length and breadth of the country and members/potential visitors stay at home instead of possibly spending money in in a club's pro shop or clubhouse.
Staff writer Martin Dempster highlights the state of affairs in East Lothian and Edinburgh with the following article in today's "Edinburgh Evening News."
Golf clubs in East Lothian, normally a place where people can be guaranteed a game at any time of the year, are losing valuable income due to the current cold snap.
The Glen in North Berwick, which has built up its winter membership in recent years, has seen play possible on only two days since December 18, while it's been a similar story at the town's famous West Links.It has been closed since December 22, with a heavy snow storm dashing hopes of the course opening again last Saturday.
A few miles along the coast at Gullane, two of the courses there were playable the same day but have now closed again with the prospects of a return to normality in the near future appearing to be slim as forecasters predict the cold spell will continue.
In addition to lost income from green fees, clubs are also being hit in the clubhouses with bar and catering facilities not being used nearly as much as they normally are over the holiday period.
Club pros are being hit in the pocket, too, with lessons being cancelled and traffic in shops described as "non-existent."
"The weather has never been a problem like this in the 16 years I have worked here," said Rita Wilson, the office manager at The Glen.
"We've only been open for two days since December 18, albeit on temporary greens throughout the course, and I can't see us being open this week again as the ice just isn't getting a chance to defrost.
"It is unheard of in North Berwick and winter is normally a good time for us due to the fact a number of the courses in the Central Belt are often closed at this time of the year."
She added: "We have a winter membership and the take up on that has been very good but, unfortunately, people haven't been able to utilise that since before Christmas. At this time of the year we also get a lot of groups coming here for a game, so it is having a knock-on effect in the bar and the catering.
"We just have to grin and bear it, though, as there is nothing we can do about it."
Along at the other end of the town, a group of 24 golfers were among those booked in for a game on the West Links on Sunday, only for another band of snow to sweep across the country on Saturday.
North Berwick Golf Club managing secretary Chris Spencer said: "We were close to opening on Saturday but were hit by a heavy snow storm around 11am. Although the course is flat, it is sheet ice in parts and I'd say you could just about forget about golf being played here again before Friday.
"It is going to be three or four weeks, I suppose, since a lot of people will have had a game so there's certainly going to be a few rusty swings around."
On the loss of income, Spencer added: "We had a group of 24 due on Sunday and there's no doubt that visitors help with income. It wreaks havoc with catering in particular."
Though Gullane members at least had a chance to play in their first competition of 2010, the three courses there are now closed as well.
"We were shut for six days before Christmas and three days straight after it," said club secretary Stephen Anthony. "We managed to have our New Year competition on Saturday, when 50 couples went out on No 1 and the ladies played on No 2 – but all the courses are shut again now.
"We had a lot of visitors booked in between Christmas and New Year but that didn't happen, resulting in the use of the visitors' clubhouse being hit badly."
In Edinburgh, most courses have been closed for almost three weeks and the drop in traffic is hitting club pros.
"This is the last thing we need," said Craigmillar Park's Scott Gourlay. "I've got plenty of sledgers up here but, sadly, no golfers. The weather had an impact on pre-Christmas sales and now we've also lost the holiday period as well. I've been able to do a little bit of club-fitting in our indoor area but traffic in the shop has been non-existent."

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