It's one of the oldest courses in world golf and six years after the future of the council-owned North Inch was hanging in the balance, the turnaround in its fortunes has been enhanced by a post-lockdown boost.
While other cities have been losing municipal courses, the Perth 18-holer has gone from strength to strength.
And this week 11-year-old Amy Young was welcomed as the venue’s 100th new season ticket holder, signing-up with her dad and local man Alan.
Perthshire pro Niall McGill, who took on the task of reviving the parkland course on the banks of the River Tay before the 2014 Ryder Cup was hosted at Gleneagles, feared the revival of recent years would be stopped in its tracks by the pandemic fall-out.
But Perth and Kinross Council’s golf course officer admits he was wide of the mark. “The uptake in season tickets since the Scottish Government allowed us to reopen the course has been amazing. It’s great to see so many people of all ages being attracted back to golf, or taking it up for the first time,” he said.
“Alan is typical of many of our new season ticket holders. He played casually before but with a bit more time on his hands he was keen to step it up and Amy was keen to get involved.
“We have attracted a fair mix. The biggest group has been adults, who have either been members of clubs before or who have seen the benefit of joining.
“But we have seen nearly 20 complete beginners joining through our ‘Get Into Golf’ package and a lot in the 20-35 age group, who might have been playing football or fives, taking in games, exercising at gyms or maybe just heading to the pub before lockdown.
“I must admit I was fearful of the impact the lockdown would have on our plans for the North Inch. We had no idea when we would be able to reopen.
“But in a bizarre way the lockdown proved to be a great advert for the course because so many people were out walking on the Inch and they saw how much the condition of the course has improved in recent years.
“When we took over responsibility for the North Inch there were only 175 season ticket holders. Hopefully we can round off this year with more than 400 season ticket holders, with pro-rata memberships still available.”
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(Posted on Friday 7th August 2020)