Huge increase in number of rounds on Edinburgh's municipal golf courses

Close to 100 additional tee times are set to be introduced across the municipal golf courses in Edinburgh this month on the back of a huge increase in the number of people playing at the venues since the sport enjoyed its boom in the Covid-19 world.

The Braids, one of the top municipal courses in Scotland, had proved particularly popular with pay-and-play golfers over the past six months
The Braids, one of the top municipal courses in Scotland, had proved particularly popular with pay-and-play golfers over the past six months

After reopening at the beginning of June following the first full lockdown through to the end of December, a total of 22,097 rounds were played at the Braids, Wee Braids, Carrick Knowe, Silverknowes, Craigentinny and Portobello.

That represented a whopping 65 per cent increase on the corresponding period in 2019, with the number of Edinburgh Leisure golf members also having increased by 58 per cent, rising from 2,057 to to 3,251, in that time.

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The Braids, widely regarded as one of the best municipal courses in Scotland with its panoramic views across Edinburgh, has been particularly popular with pay-and-play golfers since golf restarted in Scotland.

“The entire golf team is delighted to see the courses so busy, especially with a higher than usual number of golfers in the under 30 age group,” said Ken Harvey, Edinburgh Leisure’s head of customers operations.

“The increase in players can, of course, be attributable to the restrictions on other activities, but we hope that having picked up their clubs these customers will continue to participate in golf.

“It is also pleasing to see the investment we have made in equipment, irrigation, staff training and enabling us to keep the courses open and in playable condition throughout the winter, albeit the recent snowfalls have been a challenge.”

From Monday, all of the Edinburgh Leisure courses will have extended opening hours from 8.30am until 2.50pm, creating an additional 60 tee times per day across the board.

Then, from next Saturday, tee times, which are limited to either one or two-balls under the current Scottish Golf guidelines due to the new lockdown restrictions, will be every seven minutes instead of every 10 minutes at the moment.

This change will create a further 36 times per day, with the two steps combined opening up a total of 1,344 rounds at the Edinburgh Leisure venues.

“Before announcing these changes, we waited for Scottish Government advice this week as we were concerned that golf could have been shut down, as it has been in England, for example,” added Harvey.

“The adherence to guidelines by golfers all over the country has, I believe, contributed to the decision to remain open and I would like to thank all golfers for making this possible.”

Just under a year ago, a budget tabled by the SNP and Green Party for Glasgow City Council included a proposal to close five of the city’s six municipal courses, with only a nine-holer at Knightswood set to survive.

In Edinburgh, a plan had been mooted to reduce the Portobello course from nine to six holes and introduce frisbee golf and foot golf, but at all the venues Edinburgh Leisure is now keen to ride golf’s popularity wave.

“Golf has undoubtedly been in a position to take advantage of the restrictions on other forms of activity,” said Harvey. “We hope that the new and returning golfers continue to play. This would be a really positive step, not only for golf in Edinburgh but for golf in Scotland.”

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