Golf club looks forward to silver jubilee celebration

A LOCAL golf club which has risen like a Phoenix from the ashes of near oblivion will celebrate its 25th anniversary this month.

The occasion will be marked by Letham Grange Golf Club on June 12 with a competition day which will involve past captains and a barbecue.

There were fears at the beginning of this year that the club would fold when Letham Grange Hotel closed because of a legal wrangle over ownership. The hotel and its associated two 18-hole golf courses ceased operations at the end of January.

However, after a Herculean effort, the golf courses opened for the start of the season on Friday, April 1.

Prior to that over 200 club members attended an extraordinary general meeting to hear details behind proposals developed by the committee to operate the golf courses in 2011.

At that time club captain Nick Jackson explained the work that the committee had completed following the disappointing news that the hotel and resort had ceased trading.

Then in April a 10-year legal battle between Taiwanese businessman Peter Liu and the resorts administrators was settled when Lord Glennie found in favour of Mr Liu.

The golf club is still waiting to hear what the implications of the court case may be, but the committee has decided to continue to operate the courses until instructed otherwise.

Initially it was hoped that around 250 people would take out membership to the Old Course and the Glens Course but that number has been far exceeded.

Gardiner Arthur, honorary secretary and vice-captain, commented: “We are absolutely delighted with the support we have received from our members.

“We actually now have more members this year than last, including a very healthy junior section which enjoys weekly coaching sessions on a Tuesday evening.

“Of course the support we have received goes well beyond the members just paying their subscriptions. Many have volunteered to help with course maintenance and are helping out at the golf desk.

“Local residents have contributed financially so that the impressive driveway approach to the club and the hotel surrounds can be maintained. Local businesses have provided sponsorship.”

Mr Arthur went on: “Based on the support we have received from the members, and the steady stream of visitors who love to play golf at Letham Grange, we have had to modify our plans slightly to provide a higher level of service to our members, by having more greens staff performing more of the greenkeeping work as opposed to contracting this work out and having a paid staff on our golf desk.

“These changes have allowed us to tackle many time-consuming problems without any obvious impact to the golf on offer to our members, their guests and of course to our visitors.

“Our greens staff have performed a fantastic job, and only last week an ex-member of the Letham Grange Hotel Golf Management Staff, played golf at Letham Grange and commented that he hadn’t seen the courses in such good condition.”

He added: “As a measure of our confidence in the golf we have on offer at Letham Grange, we have also signed up to be a venue for the new Optical Express Pro-Golf Tour, a new Tour launched in 2011, where the top performing under-25 year old from the tour will receive a sponsorship deal from Mizuno. The event at Letham Grange is in September.”

Mr Arthur concluded: “As for our 25th year anniversary, we are planning a fun, competition day and barbecue, scheduled for June 12.

“This event will involve past captains from over the years. It could be said this is relatively low-key, however we are determined to ensure we operate the club within our budget as this was a commitment made to our members.”