Call for historic Edinburgh short hole golf course to reopen

Fears are being expressed over the future of Edinburgh’s historic short hole golf course on Bruntsfield Links due to a plea for a full reopening being blocked by Edinburgh City Council.

Bruntsfield Links Short Hole Golf Course has been closed since April 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions but golfers claim it should now be reopening as flagsticks can be touched again. Picture: Ellen Relander.

The unique 36-hole course, where golf has been played close to the heart of the Capital since 1890, has been closed due to Covid-19 restrictions for 16 months.

It had been hoped that the recent green light being given for Scottish golf clubs to allow players to handle flagsticks again would lead to a full reopening of the popular facility.

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But, despite the support of two councillors, officials of Bruntsfield Short Hole Golf Club have been told that will not be happening.

Instead, the council said it was planning to open just nine holes, claiming the decision is partly due to the pressure on greenspace teams staff because of Covid-related absence.

That intention has been described as “derisory” and putting the future of the facility “at stake”.

Jimmy Robertson, vice captain of Bruntsfield Short Hole Golf Club, said: “The 36 holes at the Links have, understandably, been closed since April 2020 due to the Government/Scottish Golf restrictions on all golf courses ‘not to touch the flagsticks/pins’.

“However, just when we expected to reach the end of the long tunnel, with mainland Scotland moving down to Protection Level 0 on 19 July, since when the Government/Scottish Golf have agreed that all golfers nationwide can once again handle the flagsticks/pins’, the reopening of the 36 holes on the Links has hit a brick wall, courtesy of the city’s senior council officials.

“Their derisory intention is to open only nine holes. This week, next week, sometime? It’s now the only golf course in Scotland/UK that still remains closed and for non-Covid reasons.

“It's been a difficult protracted couple of weeks with emails back and forth in the hope that good old common sense would eventually prevail.

“No such luck, I’m afraid, despite full reopening messages of support sent to the council officials from councillors Cameron Rose and Denis Dixon, for which the club is extremely grateful, but still to no avail unfortunately.

“After 131 years, the future of this unique 36-hole short hole golf course on historic Bruntsfield Links is now at stake!”

Bruntsfield Links is where groups of golfers first began meeting to play golf following the building of Golfhall, the world’s first golf clubhouse and genesis of the first golfing societies.

It was also the site of the first known women’s golf match in 1738, as well as being where the first woman clubmaker, Isobel Denholm, was recorded as being based.

“It is not unfair to claim that the origins of the oldest golf clubs in the Lothians today were spawned from Bruntsfield Links,” added Robertson.

“This heritage must be continued for the sake of our future generations, through the continuing existence of this historic course that is unique in world golf.”

According to the council, a solution to the full re-opening of the course has now been found and the aim is for that to happen from next week.

A spokesperson said: “Within our greenspace team, staff have to rotate across the city and service to ensure all the various pressures are dealt with, such as staff absences.

"We, like many other organisations, have a number of staff self-isolating. A solution was to have a guaranteed nine holes and open the rest when we could.

"However, with staff numbers improving, the team is working to have the course open from early next week.”

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