Dumbarnie Links still hopes to open on May 16

Alistair
By Alistair May 3, 2020 13:25

As many UK golf courses hope to reopen in May, one hopes to open for the first time during that month.

Dumbarnie Links is one of the most exciting new golf venues in the UK for years. Located less than 20 miles from St Andrews in Fife, the industry has been talking about the development for a while – but, set years ago, it could not have picked a more extraordinary time for it open.

According to Golf, by Tourmiss, the course is still planning to officially open on May 16.

“We were very excited about opening in May and despite the uncertainty that’s still our ‘Plan A’, ” David Scott, general manager, told the blog.

“It revolves around what the UK government advise. I would hope that they can see that playing golf is absolutely a game that can be played, keeping a safe distance away from playing partners.

“The positive well-being that will be created from getting out in the fresh air is priceless. If everyone sticks by the new rules that were in place; don’t touch the flagstick; get the greenkeepers to put the hole cup upside down, so the ball when falling into the hole, only drops down an inch or so, then it’s a winner.

“It is vital in the current lockdown we keep the greens team on as it is vital we keep working on the course and that includes over the week, staggering the team’s arrival and departure so no cross-contamination will occur as we take COVID-19 most seriously. Myself and the management team are all working from their homes.”

Dumbarnie Links. Image from Twitter

However, several managers of golf clubs predict that many will go under due to coronavirus.

“As we all know, several courses have closed over the last 12 months and a few more will very likely close due to the impact of COVID-19,” said Scott.

His comments comes as, in an article in The Times looking at the state of the golf industry in Scotland during the lockdown, David Roy, general manager of Crail Golfing Society, also said: “It will be hugely surprising to me if there aren’t [golf clubs that will close down as a result of Covid-19].”

Crail, one of the oldest golf clubs in the world with 1,800 members and cash reserves, should survive, but others will not be so fortunate.

“This is a living nightmare for golf clubs less fortunate than ourselves,” Roy said. “Many of them don’t have cash reserves, they were already limping along, just trying to balance their books. And now this [the pandemic] happens, with no-one coming to play their course. These clubs have had the rug pulled from under them and there is no safety net.

Dumbarnie Links

“These clubs might have 300 members, a secretary, some greenkeeping staff to pay, maybe some bar staff. But there’s no money: no-one is playing golf or eating in their clubhouse. And if you want to use the government’s furlough scheme, you have to keep paying your staff to get your money back. So you need to have the cash now. It is a brutal situation.”

Several clubs in Scotland have launched appeals for members or donations, and in some cases these have been highly successful.

But what might surprise the general public is that ‘so-called richer ‘resort courses’ also face a horrendous situation’, writes The Times.

‘Courses like Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns, rightly lauded for their beauty, are heavily reliant on visitor income, but hundreds of thousands of pounds this spring and summer will simply disappear. Dumbarnie Links could not have chosen a more disastrous time to open.

‘Resort courses could be facing a hell of a problem with this pandemic. They need the — mainly American — visitor market.

‘Even Royal Dornoch, a world-famous attraction, is having to think carefully about its proposed new £5 million clubhouse.’

“It’s very tough,” Alasdair MacDougall, the volunteer treasurer at Golspie, said. “What we are looking at is a whole summer, and now maybe a whole season, of lost visitor income. Psychologically, I think many golf clubs are sort of writing off this year.

“In the main our members have been very supportive, very decent about it. I think we will be OK. I hope, we will survive. We had £100,000 in the bank at the start of the year, and we did hope that sum might help us through the next 20 years. But that is now unlikely.”

 

Alistair
By Alistair May 3, 2020 13:25

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