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Municipal Golf Courses SAVED From Closure

By: | Thu 29 Feb 2024

Aston Villa and Scotland footballer John McGinn has helped to prevent the closure of Dalmuir, the latest municipal course north of the border to face an uncertain future.

The course in the only public one in West Dunbartonshire. The local council, under pressure to reduce its budget, recently announced a proposal to shut it or reduce it to 12 holes, and it sparked a vociferous protest. 

But a petition to save it has attracted thousands of signatures and McGinn wrote on social media: "I am gutted to hear about this. Please sign the petition if you can." And he wasn’t the only high-profile individual to speak out. Robert MacIntyre and Martin Kaymer's caddy Craig Connelly also got involved.

The petition was the brainchild of Clydebank Overtoun Golf Club, one of several that play at Dalmuir.

Gerry Smith, match secretary at Clydebank Overtoun, said the response so far had been "remarkable". He said: "It’s unbelievable the amount of people who have not only shared it but also signed it and left comments. The comments have been absolutely fantastic.

"To see guys like John McGinn who are well-known throughout the sporting world comment on it is brilliant, that pushes it even further.

"I was reading some of the posts on X [formerly known as Twitter] and there were people from England and Wales who said they’ve played the course and loved it and that it shouldn’t be shut.

"I was hoping for just over 1,000 signatures so it could go to the council but to get 3,000 and it’s still climbing is unbelievable.

"The response has been remarkable and if I could thank everyone individually I would. Hopefully, it’s enough to try and persuade them [West Dunbartonshire Council] to keep the golf course open."

Confirming the council’s change of heart, Douglas McAllister, provost of West Dunbartonshire Council and leader of the majority Labour group, wrote on X: "Generations of Bankies have enjoyed our stunning municipal golf course at Dalmuir.

"We won’t reduce the size of the course. The Labour group are committed to this. Hope that helps to clarify matters and allay fears. 100% Guarantee."

And SNP West Dunbartonshire added: "We won't be closing, shortening, or harming golf course."

The Golf Business reveals that another has been saved. Hollandbush Golf Club was slated for closure but South Lanarkshire Council, which owns it, has had a change of heart.

Mags Cathcart, the club manager, said: "Council leader Joe Fagan put a motion over that an extra £800,000 goes into the Community Fightback Fund, which already had £200,000 in it. This is the pot they will use to keep Hollandbush running this year as it is. It will be maintained by the council and run by South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture and we will start working with the council to find a new model for running the club and course.

"Whether that be asset transfer or asset transfer light or some kind of semi-private set up where we would run the course, the starter’s office and whatnot and we maybe even sub-contract the greenkeepers from them with a view to whatever suited both parties.

"It’s an absolutely amazing feeling! Our members have been right behind us, as have the communities of Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill, Lesmahagow and Coalburn and our three local councillors as well. The Golf Club Managers’ Association, which is based in England, reached out. Obviously Scottish Golf as well. The Scottish Golf Club Managers Association, of which I’m a member of, got its weight behind it, too, as did the Lanarkshire Golf Association."

Councillor Ross Lambie said on social media that there had been a "loud, strong and public commitment" from the council to support Hollandbush and praised Cathcart and her fellow committee members for the "hard work" they had put in. "We are all just delighted," she declared. "Yes, there is still a lot of work ahead, but we are all saying that this could possibly be the best thing that has happened to the club."

And it has also emerged that Caird Park in Dundee has also survived, despite being threatened with closure by the board of Leisure and Culture Dundee.

While the news about Dalmuir, Hollandbush and Caird Park is a huge boost for the local golf community, these ongoing issues simply highlight the uncertain future faced by golf courses owned by cash-strapped local authorities.

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