The ‘Augusta of Scotland’ has been mired in seemingly endless legal wrangling for well over a decade – but that could all soon be resolved according to the club secretary
By Martin Inglis
Staff at Letham Grange Golf Club say they are quietly ‘optimistic’ that a settlement can be reached soon over the ownership of the Letham Grange Hotel and golf courses after 14 years of complex legal wrangling.
Since being opened by Sir Henry Cotton in 1986, the Angus resort – often dubbed the ‘Augusta of Scotland’ – has had three owners and two liquidations, with the present struggles ongoing since 2002 in an ugly dispute between the liquidator and Taiwanese businessman Peter Liu.
Ownership of the hotel has switched back and forth between the parties through a series of rulings that have passed through the Court of Session and House of Lords, which ultimately resulted in the closure of the Old and Glens courses in early 2011.
However, they were reopened less than two months later thanks to the impressive efforts of keen members, who often worked on a voluntary basis.
After securing a three-year licence from the current owners for the courses which has allowed staff to look slightly more long-term after previously only being able to secure one-year licences, they believe it may not be too long before the issue is settled for good.
“We keep hoping that there’ll be a settlement,” Letham Grange club secretary Bruce Currie told bunkered.co.uk.
“There was a court case scheduled for June 7 but just before that, it got cancelled and we’re led to believe that something is trying to get settled out of court. But it’s hard to get any concrete information.
“Maybe there is some serious negotiations going on or maybe it’s just another delay because it’s been going on for so long.
“We try to be optimistic. We had a slow start to the season but recently visitor numbers have picked up nicely and the course is in as good a condition as we’ve seen for the past decade – which we believe is largely down to the new machinery we’ve been able to purchase and our members have also been very supportive.”
And Mr Currie, who lives in one of the 135 houses built on the Letham Grange estate, believes that the ongoing troubles with the hotel has had a detrimental effect on the amount of visitors making their way there.
“A lot of people know there’s been a problem with the Letham Grange Hotel but I don’t think they’ve been aware that, apart from that time in 2011, it’s been very much a case of business as usual for the golf courses.
“Obviously we’d like the course to be in even better condition but before this year we were only operating on a year-to-year basis. Even then, the court case could resolve itself quite soon – who knows – or the out of court settlement, and our future changes all over again.
“We believe the liquidator has some ideas with what to do but we haven’t been told anything about that. We suspect certain things but we don’t know enough to be able to say anything.”
Letham Grange was previously rated as one of the best value inland golf courses in Scotland by bunkered magazine. It is still operating as normal, with visitors and members welcome.