South Lanarkshire golfers outraged over ‘significant rise’ in cost to play council-owned courses
By Martin Inglis
Amateur golfers in South Lanarkshire have vented their anger after a significant rise in membership fees at council-owned courses.
For 2017, a 7% price rise has been put in
place for residents and a 20% rise for non-residents at the council’s six courses - Biggar, Hollandbush, Langlands, Torrance House, Larkhall and Strathclyde Park - leaving many members questioning whether it’s worth the outlay.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the council is doing this,” one member, who didn’t want to be named, told our sister website bunkered.co.uk. “If you look at our prices compared to a private course, you’d be fooled into thinking that, at almost £400 I’m getting a good deal.
“But our courses are only open four to six months a year as the conditions of them are so bad and it doesn’t include your club fees which are £140 on top of that. So it’s £534 for, at best, six months’ golf.
“I’m in my 30s. When I first joined as a senior [adult], the council fees were £150. If you look at that price increase over the last ten to 15 years, it’s well over a 100% rise. I don’t know any other sport that’s seen a rise like it.
“We’re losing so many members now. We had 300 ten years ago and now we’re down to 143, so it’s more than halved. It’s not great.”
The ‘Golf in South Lanarkshire’ Facebook page also received a wave of negative comments as people reacted to news of the price rise, which came into effect as of April 1.
Stephen O’Brien commented: “How can you justify these increases? The course is only playable five to six months a year on full tees and greens. Also for those five to six months, we have to play preferred lies for two of them because it’s a bog.”
Chris Hart added: “Shocking prices for council courses, you can play some private courses in better condition for the same money.”
Johnny Grassom wrote: “In other words, pay up or we start shutting courses.”
However, South Lanarkshire Council allayed any fears surrounding the future of the six courses, saying they were ‘fully committed’ and that the decision was down to ‘budget pressure’.
“The leisure trust and South Lanarkshire Council are fully committed to the future of our public golf courses which are an important and well used community asset,” said Gerry Campbell, general manager of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture.
“The whole of the public sector is under budget pressure, and the council’s grant from government has suffered real-term cuts in recent years and, as a result, the funding for local leisure services is decreasing.
“We have had to make difficult choices and the proposed increase to golf fees is 7% for residents of South Lanarkshire and 20% for non-residents.
“Non-residents will be asked to pay more because we acknowledge that residents of South Lanarkshire are already contributing financially towards a range of services in the area.
“We operated a similar system until a few years ago and there are other areas where residents are offered preferential rates to use services, including the highly successful Activage programme, open to residents of South Lanarkshire who are over 60 years of age.”