MORE people are playing golf on Council-owned courses in Fife – with Dunnikier Park proving to be the most popular.
A total of 116,798 rounds were played on the five 18-hole courses during 2011/12, an increase of six per cent on the previous year.
At Dunnikier Park, 30,553 rounds were played, making it the most popular ahead of Glenrothes (26,751), Kinghorn (24,353), Scoonie in Leven (21,696) and Cowdenbeath (13,445).
But the Fife Golf Trust, a charity set up to manage the courses on behalf of the Council, believes more rounds would have been played had the Kingdom not experienced some of the wettest weather conditions ever recorded.
This was the first year the courses had been under the control of the trust, and in its annual review it reported it had exceeded its budget target by 11 per cent by achieving an income of £687,000.
However, Grant Ward, the Council’s head of leisure and cultural services, reported the trust still saw room for improvement.
He said: “With an average of 23,360 recorded rounds per course, there is still capacity to attract more users. As a comparison, the St Andrews Links Trust attracts approximately 34,700 rounds, excluding The Old Course.”
Pay to play
With continued pressures on disposable incomes in the current economic climate, the trust reported a drop in demand its ‘Rover ticket’ – a season ticket covering the five 18-hole courses as well as two nine-hole courses at Auchterderran and Lochore Meadows. More people were instead making use of the ‘pay as you play’ option.
Mr Ward added: “The biggest challenges facing us over the next three years are the ability to maintain financial stability and service delivery against a backdrop of continued pressure on the wider economic climate, the impact on the ability to generate additional golf income and further efficiency savings.
“The added dimension of increased inclement weather conditions over the last two years has impacted on the ability to generate golfing income. If this continues it could have an adverse effect on the business.”
While there are budget pressures, Fife Council has announced plans for a £700,000 investment over the next two years to improve the quality of the courses and their facilities.
This includes new signage and IT infrastructure for all courses; car park improvements at Auchterderran and Kinghorn; drainage improvements at Cowdenbeath, Dunnikier Park and Glenrothes; installation of an automatic irrigation system at Kinghorn; refurbishment of changing rooms, starter and green keeping facilities at Scoonie; and refurbishment of the golf shop and starter facilities at Dunnikier Park.