The suggestion by the Scottish Executive that Scotland’s golf facilities can be used to develop a niche market in golf tourism cannot be justified in terms of the quality and quantity of golf facilities available to golf tourists. This claim is contained in a new research report “The Management and Marketing of Scotland’s golf facilities” by the independent consultant Dr Robert Price, formerly a university lecturer and research scientist and the author of “Scotland’s Golf Courses”, published in 1989.
While “The Home of Golf” can boast about having some 481 golf clubs (534 courses) only 2% of these facilities, says Dr Price, are of world class/excellent quality and 8% of very good quality. On the other hand 58% are of basic or very basic quality.
There are only 125 quality golf facilities actively participating in the golf tourism market and all the best ones are already operating at maximum capacity. Other good quality facilities would only have spare capacity if the members clubs which operate them choose to make their facilities available to visitors. But the commercialisation of members clubs, resulting from an increasing proportion of their income coming from non-members, would result in the ‘mutual trading status’ of many clubs being placed in jeopardy.
By comparison with England and Ireland, Scotland has a relatively small proportion of its golf facilities owned and operated by commercial companies. “Capital investment,” says Dr Price, “is required for the improvement of existing facilities and for the construction of new commercial facilities if Scotland is to compete in the golf tourism market.”
Turning his attention to the structure of Scottish golf, Dr Price claims that 74% of golf facilities are managed by male-dominated members clubs “which are not appropriate to present day society. There is an urgent need for a single administrative body responsible for golf in Scotland. The Scottish Golf Union is a male organisation which represents less than half of Scotland’s golfers.”
“The Management and Marketing of Scotland’s golf facilities” costs £45.
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