The Kingdom’s formerly council-managed golf courses are enjoying a new lease of life
Fife Golf Trust’S Courses Manager Paul Murphy believes improvements are ‘easy to see’ in the seven formerly-council managed courses in the Kingdom, as the Trust announced that it expects to be operating at a small surplus by the end of this year.
The Trust has responsibility for looking after Auchterderran, Cowdenbeath, Dunnikier Park and Glenrothes, as well as Kinghorn, Lochore Meadows and Scoonie, and Murphy, the former head greenkeeper at Downfield Golf Club, has overseen significant improvements to the course and its greens since he started in the role in March 2012.
“When I started with the Trust my initial thoughts were that many of our courses putting surfaces were too soft underfoot,” he said. “I put programmes in place to reduce the organic matter through intensive aeration, top dressing as well as reducing our nitrogen content.
“Over the past three years we have reduced the organic matter content to the putting surfaces by an average of 30% to all seven courses. This has resulted in firmer, smoother surfaces throughout.
“There is still a lot of work to do, but our green staff has worked hard to achieve these results and are fully committed to continually improve the Trust’s courses.
“Our golfers have seen the improvements to the courses and continue to be very supportive in what we are trying to achieve.”
Alistair Macgregor, the chief executive of the Trust, told Scottish Club Golfer, that the appointment of Murphy as Courses Manager across all seven of the Trust’s venues was an important one.
He said: “This was a clear statement of intent that Fife Golf Trust would prioritise course presentation and endeavour to produce quality playing surfaces of a standard higher than that normally associated with public courses, whilst maintaining an affordable pricing structure.”
Starting out with a £750,000 investment from Fife Council, the Trust has worked tirelessly to improve services across the board, and it’s clearly paying off.
Sales of its ‘Seven Course Rover Ticket’ - which gives golfers seven days a week access to all courses, with unlimited sign-ons at £12 a head - have risen from 300 to 830, with golf revenue across all seven courses up by over £100,000 since the Trust took over.
Macgregor outlined some of the secrets behind the organisation’s success.
“We think we cater well for club members and ‘nomadic’ golfers alike,” he explained.
“We aim to deliver quality golf experiences but at a very affordable price-point and with enough variety to satisfy the ever-growing category of golfers who want the flexibility of playing different courses, rather than being tied to one ‘home’ course.
To help achieve this, the Trust has spent a lot of money on a number of key projects. “Thanks to Fife Council’s investment, we spent almost £250,000 on various drainage projects,” added Macgregor. “We also put in new car parks at Auchterderran and Kinghorn, invested in three new golf shops at Dunnikier Park, Glenrothes and Scoonie, and we’ve spent money on new welcome signage, IT systems, greenkeeping machinery and so on.”
There have also been key personnel appointments, too, with PGA pros Ally MacDonald and Craig Knowles taking up residential roles at Dunnikier Park and Glenrothes respectively.
Having got the courses onto a better footing, the Trust is now pushing on in 2015 with its goal of helping to develop future generations of golfing talent. It is doing so by providing one free ‘Junior Rover Ticket’ with every “Adult Rover Ticket’ that is bought for the incredible annual rate of just £299.
“We see it as a key responsibility of ours to give youngsters both the opportunity and the access to golf courses from a young age,” said Macgregor. “By giving away these free tickets, kids will be able to enjoy the experience of playing golf with their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or neighbours giving them an enjoyable first experience of the game.”
The good work of the Trust has not gone unnoticed, either. Duncan Weir, Executive Director - Working for Golf at the R&A, is also a non-executive director of the organisation and he told Scottish Club Golfer: “In a very short timespan, the Trust has done an excellent job in upgrading all the courses it is responsible for through good planning, significant investment and sheer passion.”
For more information on the Fife Golf Trust, log-on to fifegolftrust.co.uk or call 01334 659494. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com