A SCOTTISH golf course on which royalty teed off five hundred years ago could undergo a major facelift to capitalise on the success of the Ryder Cup.
A new six-hole course could be created on North Inch, Perthshire - the first golf course in the world to gain Royal patronage - to attract novices and visitors.
Golf has been a feature of the North Inch for almost 500 years, with King James IV said to have played on the parklands in the 1500s.
North Inch is 70 years older than the famous “home of golf” - the Royal and Ancient golf club in St Andrews - making it one of the oldest courses in the world.
The course has changed many times in its long history, with extensions and revisions being made.
The current arrangement of holes was laid out by Old Tom Morris, who also designed Carnoustie, Muirfield and St Andrews New courses.
Now the local authority plans to build the new course around the existing first three holes. That will not interfere with play on the main course, however, as the six-hole version will only be available at quieter times.
The proposal is one of a number of measures to be put before a meeting of the environment committee tomorrow.
The plan would also introduce a new pricing structure and free coaching for juniors.
Convener Alan Grant said today: “Interest in golf has soared this past year as the legacy from the 2014 Ryder Cup and Junior Ryder Cup has captured the imagination of many in our local communities and inspired many of our visitors, too.
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“The North Inch Golf Course enhances the leisure facilities available in the local area and it’s vital that our municipal golf course meets the needs of its varied membership and continues to attract new players.
“The flexible pricing options mean that players of all ages will be able to choose a package closely tailored to their playing requirements, and the new six-hole course, mini golf course and discounted rates through the Golf Perthshire pass are sure to entice many more visitors to try their hand at golf in Perth and Kinross.”
A round on the six-hole course will cost £3.50 for an adult player, £2.50 for a junior and £10 for a family of four.
Sets of golf clubs will also be available for “hire” without any extra charge.
New junior members will join the North Inch Golf Course for just £20 and a free, four-week coaching class, worth £20, will be included in membership.
Just 12 months ago the North Inch golf course’s future looked less than certain.
Scarred by repeated flooding and suffering through lack of investment, there had been a very real fear that the 18 holes would close forever, bringing to an end hundreds of years of golf history.
The course was saved for the city, however, when the council announced last February that it would invest £50,000 in the site over the coming two years.
The investment plans include improved drainage on five particularly badly affected holes and dredging of the ditch that runs across the course to reduce flooding.
They also include upgrades for bunkers, sanding of the fairways and improvements to the path leading to the starter’s hut.
King James IV, who was crowned at Scone Palace in 1488, decided in 1502 that the threat of war with England had receded and lifted the long-standing ban on golf.
This had been imposed to encourage archery, and he then personally took up golf.
In the first recorded purchase of golf equipment, he then went and ordered his first set of golf clubs from a local bowmaker in Perth, costing him the princely sum of 13 shillings (65p).
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