Sir – As a member and past captain of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, I write concerning the article in your paper last week concerning the proposed building of a new clubhouse at a cost of £4.6m.
Last week the governor of the Bank of England spoke of the financial storm clouds which are gathering as a result of the euro crisis, and the problems which could result for the British economy from a lengthy period of recession, problems not envisaged in 2007 when the Golf Club Council were given a mandate to undertake a feasibility study of building a new clubhouse.
Our new and respected club manager, who inherited this mandate, is quoted as saying in last week’s Northern Times: "We have to think of the people coming after us."
For different reasons that is also my concern. The very fine Blairgowrie Golf Club, near to where I now live, built a new clubhouse a few years ago costing just under £2m. Despite the excellent quality of their three courses, the high interest costs on the loans are now making it incredibly difficult to make inroads into the repayment of these loans.
I would not like to see future members of our club similarly inherit a massive interest and debt problem..
Some years ago I was invited to be the guest speaker at a dinner in Pinehurst, North Carolina, in honour of the distinguished golf architect Donald Ross who was brought up in Dornoch.
After the dinner many told me how much they had enjoyed playing Royal Dornoch. Though they spoke most warmly of the welcome they had received, and the quality and magnificent setting of the course, none were critical of our clubhouse.
Though there is no denying that the proposed new clubhouse would have certain advantages, including more space on the few occasions throughout the year when that would be helpful, our present clubhouse is certainly not deterring golfers from coming from all corners of the world.
The suggestion of the planning committee, that £20 could be added to the green fee to help pay for the new clubhouse, concerns me.
I have long felt that the present cost of green fees at most of our great links courses now prevent many Scottish people from playing these historic courses, which after all are part of their Scottish heritage.
Though most American visitors would not quibble at a green fee of well over £100 for a round, it would certainly make playing Royal Dornoch too costly for most Scottish and English golfers, especially during a period of austerity when salaries and pensions are being frozen, a period which according to financial forecasts will continue for several years.
I am fully aware that green fees at St Andrews, Muirfield, Troon etc, are more expensive than ours. What I believe we must not forget is the considerable added cost of getting to Dornoch, and that the economy of the town and other local courses is very dependent on the championship course continuing to attract visiting golfers from other parts of Britain as well as abroad.
Dr James A Simpson,