Scottish Golf Courses

Last orders called at Blairbeth GC

New drink-drive laws implicated in the sudden closure of long-standing Lanarkshire club

A Lanarkshire golf club has folded after a downturn in revenue, caused in part by the drink-drive regulations in Scotland.

Blairbeth Golf Club near Rutherglen closed its doors in October after huge losses - losses it has attributed in part to a new law which came into effect in Scotland last December.

The change saw the limit reduced from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood, which, for the average man, equates to less than a pint of beer, and for the average woman, a small wine.

The regulations have had the desired effect, helping to reduce the number of people behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol. But licensed premises have been hit hard.

“Before the drink driving law came into force, the older members and some of the other guys would stay for a few pints and sometimes they’d be here so long, they’d just decide to stay and get a taxi home,” club captain David McKay told “It concerned us immediately. We noticed within the first month that takings were massively down and that’s not just alcohol, because if people are using the bar for drinks then they’re more likely to hang about and order food as well.

“Towards the end, barely anyone was staying for even one pint because they obviously didn’t want to run the risk of being caught. After events and nice days during the summer, our clubhouse was sitting empty. That was sad to see.”

The club intended to stay afloat by reducing its course from 18 holes to nine but that was seen as a ‘last throw of the dice’ by some members, 20 of whom resigned immediately after the EGM where the course reduction was ratified.

Attempts to engage the local community failed, too.

“We went into every school in the surrounding area with posters offering junior memberships up to the age of 18 for £50 a year,” added McKay. “Not one child joined. I’m 49 in a couple of weeks and my mates and I were known around the club as ‘the young guys’ - that’s just ridiculous.

“The galling thing is that we recently renovated the clubhouse. It’s got a new roof, showers, locker room, the bar has been decorated with a new carpet and seating. Now, it’s sitting there empty.”

Responding to the news of the club’s closure, Scottish Golf deputy chief executive Andy Salmon said: “This is disappointing news for the members of Blairbeth GC.

“Scotland has not seen course closures on a scale seen south of the border. Indeed, the latest membership figures in Scotland are encouraging, with total club membership up by 2.14% at 223,000 for 2014. We continue to work hard as an organisation to promote golf through our various programmes, such as ClubGolf and Get into Golf, and our dedicated team of club development officers.”

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