Historic course reportedly the subject of a bold takeover bid from Edinburgh-based company
By Michael McEwan
A £10MILLION plan to restore six-time Open Championship venue Musselburgh Links to its former glory has been tabled by Edinburgh-based Blue Thistle Ltd.
According to a recent report in The Courier, the company has approached members of East Lothian Council - which currently owns the course - to discuss a 'bold and exciting proposition' to bring the nine-hole course back to its formidable best.
A spokesperson for Blue Thistle Ltd said it intended to 'capture the heritage of the course' and restore it to its 1896 set-up, recreating and repositioning some of its key 'lost' features.
"This will challenge the modern golfer as well as the traditionalist who likes to play with hickory-shafted clubs," said the spokesperson. "Some new tees and greens will be built. A course with the quality of an Open Championship venue is the goal."
It is believed that Blue Thistle Ltd was formed with the express aim of taking over the running of Musselburgh Links. Its directors include a former secretary of the club, Robin McGregor.
If successful, the plans would see £10m spent on upgrading the course and its surroundings amenities over the next seven years to 'bring them up to the necessary international standards'. Blue Thistle Ltd expect the project to create 40 new jobs, ranging from administration to hospitality, with the funding required to launch the project already in place, according to the company spokesperson.
"The shareholders are satisfied the business plan would make a reasonable return on investment over the medium to long term," they added.
The planned off-course developments include refurbishing the Stables Pavilion with a new restaurant and lounge which would be open to the public. The locker rooms and toilet facilities would also be upgraded, with new practice facilities created. A PGA professional and general manager would also be employed.
East Lothian Council said that it was aware of a 'commercial desire' to take over the course. However, ward councillor John Caldwell said that he would be opposing the plans.
"I totally disagree with this project," he told The Courier. "I have also spoken to a number of golfers and clubs who are also not supportive. The large financial investment proposed would change the character of this prestigious course completely.
"This golf course is not a commodity for someone to come along and make it a financial investment." Musselburgh Links is one of the oldest courses in the world, with documented evidence showing that golf has been played there as far back as 1672. It hosted the Open six times between 1874 and 1889.