Martin Dempster: Time for nomads to pay proper rate for golf

Picture: Gareth Easton
Picture: Gareth Easton
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Nomadic golfers continue to be a big talking point in the ongoing debate about declining golf club membership and, by the sounds of things, Scotland needs to follow New Zealand’s lead in tackling this particular issue.

According to Bill Mackie, a Burntisland Golf House member who is out there at the moment, clubs in New Zealand have two green fees – one for members of clubs associated to their federation and another that is normally $5-$10 dollars more expensive for non-affiliated players.

As he observed, it seems a perfectly simple way of dealing with people who still want to play but can’t commit to membership, either due to the cost or not having sufficient time. Yet why are rounds being offered so ridiculously cheap in Scotland?

Speaking at last week’s Lothians Golf Association annual general meeting, Harburn’s Jim Stewart said he’d checked one of the discounted websites earlier in the day to find out that golf was available that afternoon for between just £9 and £12 at the likes of Niddry Castle, Turnhouse, Harburn, Deer Park, Pumpherston at Linlithgow.

“We are encouraging nomads amongst clubs and, in doing so, we have all joined the race to the bottom,” he declared. “There will probably be £2 to come off those rates for the company offering it. Are we going to let someone take a divot out of our course for £7? The price should be £20-£25. We all need to act together on this.”

Told that was illegal, he added: “Then we have to try to find a way round it because in a price war no-one wins other than the person who is buying.”

He’s right there and it’s time for someone to take the bull by the horns on this one. Anyone prepared to step up to the plate?