One of Scotland’s most prestigious golf clubs is breaking with years of tradition in what some believe is the most significant policy shift in the club’s 138-year history. Ladybank Golf Club in Fife is embracing fundamental change by introducing a more open approach which incorporates ground-breaking membership options and closer ties with the travel and tourism sectors.
The changes, which are detailed on the club’s revamped website have been championed by the club’s new secretary Gordon Simpson who took up his post last year. He presented a portfolio of far-reaching initiatives at the club’s January AGM which were subsequently passed. The decision ushers in a new era at the renowned Fife club.
“These are exciting and historic times for Ladybank Golf Club,” said Gordon. “The course has been long regarded as one of the best heathland layouts in Scotland. We now have the opportunity to create a vibrant club around that reputation by creating a club fit for the 21st century. That requires change so a decision has been made to seize the moment and make fundamental improvements that will shape the club for the foreseeable future.”
He continued: “The idea is to become a modern, open golf club. To do that requires fresh thinking and a more customer-focussed approach. In many ways, this has been one of the biggest changes to ever happen at the club.”
Ladybank Golf Club has introduced four new membership categories that reflect a key transitional phase from junior to full-member status. New categories for 18-25 year olds and 26-30 year olds have been announced with the notable lack of waiting lists. Similarly, country and overseas membership categories have been unveiled for the first time, with numbers initially restricted to 25 members in each division.
There has also been a fundamental shift in the approach to visitors at the club, which is establishing closer links with golf tour operators and key accommodation providers such as Rufflets Hotel; 2016 AA Scottish Hotel of the Year.
“It is a great idea,” said Stephen Owen, general manager at Rufflets. “If our clients want to play one of the best courses in the area, we can now accommodate that. The new arrangement with Ladybank ticks a lot of boxes for us and it is easy to manage. We are relishing the opportunity to working with a prestigious club like Ladybank.”
In 2015, Ladybank was named by National Club Golfer magazine as the best course in Scotland (for under £100), describing it as “a rare beast in Fife – a tremendous inland course”. The course, originally laid out by Old Tom Morris, is a classic heathland test which is regarded by many as one of the finest layouts in Scotland.
One National Club Golfer reviewer noted: “Of its type; one of the finest courses in the land for my money. The experience here is always a rich one. Standing on the first tee, you know you are in for a treat.”
The year ahead will also be one to celebrate at Ladybank which marks 55 years since its course was expanded to its current 18-hole championship course status. Set amongst the heather, pine and silver birch trees, the original six-hole routing was laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1879.
“Ladybank has a remarkable history,” said Gordon. “It is an Old Tom layout and a seven-times host for final qualifying at The Open Championship in St Andrews. There is no doubt Ladybank has a phenomenal history, but it is also a progressive club with an exciting future. With a new-look website, revised membership categories and thriving relationships with the tourism sector, the club is looking to the future with fresh impetus and zeal. These are certainly exciting times.”
Links with History www.linkswithhistory.com
Ladybank Golf Club www.ladybankgolf.co.uk
In each month and year listed below every article that has ever appeared in golfbusinessnews is reproduced in reverse date order.