Home » Feature Story

Dalquharran Castle will get new life and a Nicklaus golf course

Dave BowersBy Dave Bowers,
Contributor

Dalquharran CastleA rundown Scottish castle is on course for a new lease of life.

One of the world's leading hotel chains is putting only its second development in the UK in Scotland.

The £20m project by Ritz-Carlton will turn the ruins of Dalquharran Castle - built in 1790 - in South Ayrshire into one of Britain's top hotels.

And on the grounds Jack Nicklaus is designing a new golf course which it is hoped will rank alongside world-famous Ayrshire venues such as Turnberry and Royal Troon.

The development will be the third course in Scotland to be designed by Nicklaus, who is currently overseeing the construction of a new course at Loch Lomond.

Design proposals will develop the country estate into a 7000-yard championship course, remodelling an existing ox-bow lake and creating a new lake.

The development was approved as it was revealed Scotland's annual earnings from golf-related tourism had trebled from £100m to £300m in four years.

On the move

A golf club in England's west midlands is considering selling its course for development and relocating. Members of Robin Hood Golf Club are to vote on plans to sell the land at Solihull and move to nearby Hockley Heath.

It is understood the move is being considered because of Robin Hood's financial situation and health and safety issues. Television sports presenter Gary Newbon - who is a member at the 6,635-yards Robin Hood - said he objected to the proposals, but was surprised they had become public.

Newbon said:"I am against it. I have a number of objections to these proposals. Firstly, I am one of the many members who live near the course and I would not want to travel several miles to play golf. I would find another golf club.

"Also, the golf course is very good. We need to spend money on the clubhouse but the golf course is in good condition.

"I am also concerned that a new golf course will take a long time to settle down. We would have to wait for all the trees to grow. There is no guarantee that a new course in Hockley Heath would be as good."

The 111-year-old golf club is in the process of selling off plots of land to developers in a bid to raise funds.

Sold...to the man at the back

Glenisla golf course, in Scotland, has been purchased from the bankrupt Glenshee Chairlift Co. by the former majority shareholder.

The Glenshee Chairlift Co., which also owned the Glencoe skiing centre, was put up for sale in February, having lost £1m in the past two years after a series of poor skiing seasons. And in May, the company went into receivership.

However, the club has now been sold for an undisclosed sum to the preferred bidder, Glenisla Golf Course Ltd, of which Hamish Somerville is principal.

Somerville's son, Nick, said the golf course had been supporting the skiing operations for some time.

He explained:"Because it was propping up the skiing, it was being starved of investment. It is a sound business. The main focus will be a quality golf course.

"The banks had been happy to go with the golf course but not the ski slopes by themselves. So unfortunately it had to be part of what went into receivership. But now it looks as though both the ski hills and golf course will get new starts.

Donald SteelSteel is president elect

Donald Steel, the writer and golf course architect, has accepted the nomination to become president elect of the English Golf Union for 2006.

A Fleet Street golf journalist for 30 years, Steel admits to being bowled over by his nomination.

"It came as a total surprise, like a bolt from the blue," he said.

The EGU presidency should present no problems to Steel as he has, at various times in recent years, held similar posts with the Association of Golf Writers, the British Institute of Golf Course Architects, and the Public Schools Golfing Society.

Steel has designed around 70 courses in 20 countries since 1987 and is currently involved in six projects from the Bahamas and the United States to Portugal.

He has a strong affinity with the EGU's headquarters at Woodhall Spa as he personally designed the Bracken Course there.

Wales is ready

Europe's celebrations at Oakland Hills have whetted the appetite in Wales for when the Ryder Cup visits for the first time in 2010.

Celtic Manor launched its redesigned course for the match with a ground-breaking ceremony. Ryder Cup Wales manager Rob Holt is already looking forward six years.

"These days you need, like the Olympics, to be looking at purpose-built venues for the Ryder Cup," he said.

"The redesign of the course at Celtic Manor offers us just that sort of opportunity to create a golf course specifically for the needs of catering for the huge crowds of a Ryder Cup.

"One of the things I picked up from the galleries in Detroit was the need for more spectator information on the state of play in the various matches.

"More scoreboards can be provided but, if you were looking to enhance spectator information and entertainment, you couldn't ask for a better man to be hosting the event than Sir Terry Matthews."

Celtic ManorCeltic Manor owner Matthews, Wales' first billionaire, is a telecommunications entrepreneur and has already outlined some visionary ideas on how golf can be broadcast better.

From wiring up players with miniature microphones to fixed cameras on every hole, Matthews has some far-reaching opinions on how Celtic Manor can revolutionise coverage of the matches.

Cup of cheer

A trophy which vanished 74 years ago from an Essex golf club has been discovered in the USA.

The solid silver "Fine Cup" was recovered from a second-hand shop in Carolina by an ex-patriot who lives in San Francisco. Paul Milton - who was born less than a mile from the club - was so stunned he jetted 3,000 miles to deliver the silverware back to Boyce Hill Golf Club, in Benfleet.

"It's just unbelievable," he said."I was born around the corner from Boyce Hill, but haven't been back for 35 years. My grandparents lived their whole lives close to the golf club.

"It was as if I was destined to find that cup. It was so eerie. I had to bring it home." Delighted Boyce Hill bosses were at a loss to explain how the 9-inch high prize, dated 1931, made its way across the Atlantic.

Paul, who designs golf clubhouses, was working on a course at Palmetto Bluff. He had sent staff out to buy up old trophies to fill a new cabinet. They returned with a clutch of memorabilia for £220 when he discovered the piece bearing the Boyce Hill logo wrapped in newspaper.

Club secretary Peter Keeble said investigations were ongoing into its origin.

He added:"We're thrilled to get it back. We would like to say a big thank-you to Mr. Milton. It was a wonderful gesture to donate it to us after flying all the way over.

Record attempt planned

An attempt to break the world record for the longest drive is being planned by organisers of next year's London Golf Show. Exhbition organisers are in talks with London City Airport and the sports charity SPARKS in an effort to set up the attempt.

The London Golf Show team, made up of professional golfers and celebrities, wants to beat the record set by Kelly Murray in Canada in 1990. Kelly blasted a ball a staggering 684.4 yards down a 40-yard wide airstrip.

Jay Tyson, project manager for the London Golf Show said:"We're working very closely with the team at London City Airport. They are currently assessing the feasibility of organising the record-breaking attempt on the runway, and we hope to be able to confirm arrangements very soon.

Enough to make you sick...

Arsenic has been found in the grass on an English golf course built on a former tip. The poison was discovered on land covering the first nine holes at St Michael's golf course, Widnes.

Warnings have been issued to golfers and walkers, and people living nearby have been sent letters to make them aware of the situation.

Soil and grass has been contaminated, probably caused by the land's former use as a landfill site.

Environmental experts say there is no need to close the course immediately, provided people are warned about the arsenic and take precautions. Warning notices have been posted round the course.

The course is set to close Oct. 24 to allow £4m worth of improvements to be made. The arsenic was discovered during preparatory work ahead of the planned improvements.

Bus tycoon plans new route

Transport tycoon Ann Gloag wants to attract golf's elite to her new home by building a championship course in the grounds.

The woman behind the Stagecoach bus empire in the UK, hopes to attract top pros to the course at her castle estate in Inverness-shire.

Gloag bought the 24-bedroom Beaufort Castle, the former seat of the Fraser clan, in 1995 for around £3.5m.

But it has emerged she now hopes to develop the area around Beaufort on the banks of the River Beauly into a posh holiday retreat centred around the course.

Plans for the scheme, which is expected to be marketed heavily towards the U.S. golf tourism market, are at an advanced stage, with a planning application expected soon.

As well as the golf course, Gloag's planned development would also boast a hotel, and lodge and chalet accommodation.

Her spokesman Jack Irvine said:"Mrs Gloag and her advisors are looking at several developments throughout the UK, including this one. They believe it would give a large uplift to the local economy."

Dave lives on the south coast of England with partner Jackie and their three children. Originally a football writer in his homeland, he even rose to the giddy heights of public relations manager for an English professional Premiership side. But he'd been bitten by the golf bug and returned to his roots in journalism as executive editor for Golf Management Europe magazine and as a sports sub-editor/golf writer on one of the country's largest regional daily papers. Like all of us, he plays golf whenever he can - which isn't as often as he would like - and has even performed stand-up comedy in a top comedy club.

 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment

 
Swing Fix