The owners of Pitlochry Golf Club in the Scottish Highlands are celebrating after winning a major accolade at the fifth annual Scottish Golf Tourism Awards held at the Fairmont St Andrews Resort.
Five years after fears were raised for the future of the club, which dates back to 1909, Pitlochry has been hailed as Scotland’s ‘Best Course Under £50’.
Last year, local company RW Bell Electrical took over the reins at the scenic club and the future looks far more secure, with membership growing and visitor numbers up.
“It is fantastic for the golf club. It shows we are doing something right,” said company managing director and former Perth & Kinross county player Steve Carruthers, whose ties to the golf club stretch back 45 years. “We have great facilities, but Pitlochry is all about the course, it is our biggest asset. We have always been considered a bit of a hidden gem, but hopefully awards like this will mean it will be less of the ‘hidden’.”
He added: “A few years ago, an American golf writer said we were the best golf course under 6,000 yards in the world. That was quite an accolade. Around 65% of our income is reliant on visitors, so awards like this are a huge plus in terms of upping our profile. Without visitors there would be no golf course. Our membership has also been growing, to around the 360 mark, which is very positive.
“Not so long ago the possibility was that there would be a couple of greenkeepers cutting grass, an honesty box and maybe even just the nine holes. I got involved in 2010, first with Pitlochry Golf Ltd and then RW Bell, when we took over a year ago last January. Now the facilities include a great nine holes at Blair Atholl, a fabulous practice set-up, and popular six-hole course, with the clubhouse and pro shop open year round for our members and visitors.
“It has been a great team effort, with Niall McGill of Noah’s Ark Golf Centre and pro Wallace Booth, together with our manager Mike Winton making an immediate impact in enhancing the experience. But I have no doubt the single biggest factor in this Perthshire success story was appointing Stuart Griffiths as course manager. He has a wealth of experience, having spent five years at Carnoustie, with Blair Atholl, Tain, Letham Grange and Hankley Common in Surrey also featuring on his impressive CV.”