R&A’s bid to buy municipal course in Glasgow gets green light

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, is aiming to grab 'opportunity' for golf. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty ImagesMartin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, is aiming to grab 'opportunity' for golf. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, is aiming to grab 'opportunity' for golf. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Lethamhill earmarked to be blueprint for growing the game

Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, is aiming to use the proposed purchase of a municipal golf course in Glasgow to develop a blueprint of how the governing body intends to lead the way in breathing new life into the game.

It has emerged that the St Andrews-based organisation is on the verge of concluding a deal to buy Lethamhill Golf Course, which sits between the M8 and M80 in the north of the city.

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The future of the 18-hole venue has been up in the air along with four other municipal courses in Glasgow – Alexandra Park, Linn Park, Ruchill and Lethamhill – due to budget cuts announced by Glasgow City Council in February.

However, it now seems as though Lethamhill is set to be at the heart of the R&A, led by Slumbers, moving to a new level in its bid to be at the forefront of growing the game.

A proposal to transform the course, which is currently operated on the council’s behalf by Glasgow Life, into a new community golf centre has been given the green light, with both parties now working through the “process” to reach an agreement on the purchase of the land.

An R&A spokesperson said: “We are exploring the possibility of acquiring the public golf course at Lethamhill and are currently involved in on-going discussions of our proposals with Glasgow Life. We continue to follow the process outlined by the local authority with the aim of reaching an agreement for the site.

“We believe that this is an opportunity to create and establish a popular blueprint for how golf can be offered in many appealing ways to be enjoyed by men, women, young people and families of all ages and backgrounds. It reflects our wider strategy to ensure golf is thriving 50 years from now.”

The Scotsman understands that the centre would be focused on trying to deliver golf in a different format than the one currently available at established clubs, something Slumbers talked with real passion about earlier in the year at an annual sitdown with members of the golf media in St Andrews.

In fact, he spoke specifically about the six Glasgow City Council courses being under threat, saying: “Many of those municipal golf courses are providing traditional type of play, but it’s pressure from councils that is driving the Glasgow issue.

“But I’m a massive optimist and, if the game can truly think about the product that’s being delivered by golf clubs, there is a market five times the size of existing membership today that is more diverse and it’s younger.

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“And that’s our opportunity. And we have to break down the traditional barriers to be able to embrace it. You go to clubs which deliver non-traditional forms of the game, they’re busy. And I think that’s a lesson for all of us who love this game.”

SNP councillor David McDonald, the chair of Glasgow Life, has welcomed the deal with the R&A for Lethamhill, according to bunkered.co.uk.

“It will help develop a whole new way to play and access the sport for a wider audience including local groups and schools,” he tweeted. “In addition it brings added community benefits, jobs and training opportunities.

“During our golf review we promised to deliver a sustainable future for golf. This 
agreement represents just that. A partnership between the city and an internationally-established sport governing body that will lead to the 
development of new ways to participate in and enjoy golf.”

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