Drive for clues after vandals strike before blind golf event

VANDALS launched a bizarre attack on an Edinburgh golf course just days before it was due to host the world blind golf tournament.

Greenkeepers arrived at the seventh green at Ratho Park Golf Club to find 30 divots hacked out. Days earlier a flag pole had been used to puncture a series of holes on the same green before being thrown into bushes.

Course officials have been left baffled by the motive behind the attacks but were confident the green would be repaired in time for the second blind golf World Invitational today and tomorrow.

Blind golf events have proved controversial in the past because of the varying levels of sight some players possess, but it is not thought the tournament was a motive for the vandals.

Officials say it is particularly puzzling since there are no urban areas for miles around, suggesting that someone has travelled specifically to vandalise the seventh green.

Police are now investigating the attacks, which happened on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Ratho club secretary Craig Innes said that the attacks coincided with a hectic week for the club.

He said: "This is the busiest week of the club calendar. We have the blind golf World Invitational and British Open, as well as a handicap open on Sunday and another competition on Saturday.

"The green staff did a fantastic job of repairing the damage and play on the hole has been able to resume. It shouldn't affect play too much as we can reposition the pin around the damage - it's more the hassle factor that is annoying us."

Mr Innes said the remote location of the club meant that it had not experienced attacks of this nature before.

He said: "We're not close to any residential area - that's what's the most galling thing about it.

"I know other courses closer to town have had some problems like these but we've never had anything like it.

"We're effectively out in the sticks here, there's no urban areas for a couple of miles in all directions."

Gerry Kelly, a committee member of the Scottish Blind Golf Association, said that vandals had never specifically targeted a blind tournament in the past.

He said: "I hadn't heard of this particular incident, but it does happen at golf clubs from time to time.

"It's quite despicable that someone would do something like this. Ratho Park Golf Club hasn't flagged this up as a problem to us before."

Lothian and Borders Police have been contacted and are now asking anyone who may have seen the mysterious attack to come forward.

A spokesman said: "We would appeal to anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious at Ratho Park Golf Club on Thursday night."

A total of 40 players are taking part in the blind golf competition. Gorgie golfer Cameron McDiarmid, 18, will defend the title he won two years ago at Westerwood Golf Club in East Kilbride.

Mr McDiarmid will be competing against golfers from as far afield as Canada, Australia, Israel and Sweden.

Blind golfers are aided by their caddies, who advise them on direction and how strongly they should hit their shots, as well as warning them of potential obstacles.

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