Improvements to practice facilities at Belleisle Golf Course will help identify the next generation of players, according to a senior South Ayrshire Council officer.
The works also mark the first major modernisation since the course opened almost 100 years ago.
South Ayrshire Counci’s cabinet gave the go ahead to build a new practice and development facility. This will also include changes to a number of holes.
Council leader Martin Dowey said that the move was welcome and showed the importance of investment in the council’s golf courses.
He said: “My opinion is golf was always a cash cow for the council, which never put money back into it. Now we are putting money back into it, we are reaping the rewards.”
Councillor Brian Connolly, whose sport and leisure remit includes golf, said: “The golf strategy has gone really well. Courses have come back into play and improvements have been welcomed.
“The figures for the sport are terrific, the visitors, the season tickets. It is a good start to our improvement work. ”
Councillor Alec Clark, who is spokesperson for tourism, added: ” I know it’s a great improvement to the facilities we have on offer in South Ayrshire; not only very good for residents and golfers but a great enhancement to the tourism offering.”
Councillor Bob Pollock acknowledged that some residents may question spending significant sums on golf during a financial crisis.
He said: “If anyone hasn’t had the opportunity, they should read the report on the financial impact of golf on Ayrshire economy and the health benefits it brings to people as well.
“A lot of people may be wondering why, when we are in a financial crisis, that we are spending money on golf. The report clearly identify significant benefits that come from it. ”
Councillor Bob Shields said he received lots of emails from ‘concerned golfers’ around the work and the impact it will have on them.
He added that the term ‘tinkering with Belleisle’ keeps coming in.
“We are not tinkering with it, we are going to substantially improve it.”
He asked for assurances around a consultation, where all the clubs involved will have their say about what is happening.
Assistant director Jane Bradley said: “Belleisle is 100 years old and this is the first real modernisation of it.
“What you find in the golf community is that it is polarised. Many people will be absolutely delighted by modernisation, with changes, with improvements. There will be others who will not.”
She added: “Yes [the facility] could help us have larger competitions and, yes, a larger practice area.
“But it is also about providing opportunities to the next generation of golfers by providing formal and informal practice and development for them as well as the needs of current golfers.
Councillor Dowey concluded: “There is a lot of polarisation with this. When people see what we are actually trying to do, they get it. When they are playing golf they will be talking to one another about how ‘this is rubbish’ and ‘they are going to destroy the courses’,. That is far from the case.
The report was approved by the cabinet.
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