Scottish Golf Courses

EXCLUSIVE :: Montrose future in 'lap of the gods'

The club’s Medal Course has struggled with coastal erosion and may be forced to change its layout

The future of the Medal Course at Montrose Golf Links is yet to be decided, despite some reports suggesting changes to the historic layout had already been approved.

Speaking exclusively to Scottish Club Golfer, Claire Penman, the secretary of Montrose Golf Links, was quick to emphasise that no changes had been made as yet, and there are no plans in place to deal with the ‘bad erosion’ that the course has suffered from.

Golf has been played on the land upon which Montrose Golf Links’ Medal Course now sits for over 450 years. Due to its proximity to the coast, coastal erosion has been a major problem for the links and that came to a head in 1994, when the original sixth hole disappeared into the North Sea. Since then, the impact on the course has been getting gradually worse, with action now needed to save the current layout.

 “It’s something that has become progressively worse for a number of years now,” said Penman. We’re now getting a scouring effect coming from the 2nd hole up and erosion is eating into the tee areas at the 2nd and 3rd holes.

“We suffered quite a bit more significant erosion during the winter time when it was stormy and, at the moment, we’re waiting on Angus Council who have been dredging an area of the sea.”

Last year, the club spoke to Hawtree Ltd, a renowned golf course architecture company owned by Martin Hawtree,  who was also the designer of Trump International Golf Links. Hawtree’s firm drew up plans for changes to the current layout, but those will no longer be put into use because the season ticket holders didn’t like the plans and, in light of the erosion suffered over winter, the plans are no longer viable.

 “We did have plans from Hawtree last year and that seemed like the most feasible option,” confirmed Penman. “The only other option would be to take holes from the Medal and move them onto the Broomfield, making the Broomfield a nine-hole course while keeping the Medal and 18-hole course. 

“To be perfectly honest, even if we were to go do that, we’d find the erosion would keep coming in anyway and affect that.”

“At the moment, we’re not too sure what our next step is going to be and until the results of the studies from the council are known in a couple of months, we won’t really be able to move forward.”

With over 1,000 season ticket holders at the links, the importance of the club to the town is not lost on anyone, and that’s why so much effort has been put into improving the current situation.

Penman also hinted that the club may return to Hawtree Ltd for further new designs should they be required. As it stands, the coastal erosion will continue affecting the course, but she admits they are powerless to how quickly it happens and are facing the unknown as to when they might have to act again once they solve the current problem.

She said: “We’re in the lap of the gods with that one. It depends really on the weather. If the wind is blowing out to sea, it isn’t impacting us in any way. If it’s blowing in off the sea then we’ve got a big problem because that’s when it is battering the dunes.

“It’s so important to the town that the club remains in the best possible condition. A large proportion of our season ticket holders live in Montrose. All these people don’t want to lose their golf course and most of the town don’t want to lose this iconic venue that has so much history behind it. We just have to wait and see.”

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