Dunnikier Park Golf Club is hoping to revitalise local interest in the sport with the opening of its new six-hole course.
The game in Scotland is facing a challenging time with a report in our sister title, The Scotsman, last year highlighting the decline in golf club memberships across the country, with some 50,000 golfers having given up in the past decade.
Dunnikier Park, in contrast, is a thriving club with a 600-strong membership, but with an age profile predominantly over 50, there are concerns over the difficulty attracting, and retaining, young golfers.
Many of the issues surround the time commitment and overall demands of playing 18-holes in a busy modern society, but Dunnikier Park will now offer a much quicker, shorter version of the game as it prepares to officially launch it’s new ‘2019 course’.
A jointly-funded venture between Fife Council, Scottish Golf, and the club themselves, with support from the Fife Golf Trust, it is hoped the new facility will provide a more attractive route into golf for beginners – both adults and juniors – or those just wanting a shorter game.
Raymond Johnston, honorary secretary at Dunnikier Park, explained: “Golf in general is struggling to attract kids and younger adults.
“The six-hole course is very much a development course for juniors, but we also see it as bringing adults into the game.
“We think it will be massive magnet for kids, people getting into the game, and for people just looking to play a quick six holes.
“We lose a lot of people because they are not interested in playing 18 holes – it takes too much time.
“To be able to play six holes, then have a meal and go home is hitting a different market and we see this as a great thing.”
The new six-hole course, a conversion of the former practice area adjacent to the first hole, has also resulted in partnerships forming with other local groups.
Last week pupils with additional support needs from Balwearie and Lochgelly High Schools attended a successful ‘try golf’ session, while the club is also linking up with youth football team Templehall United that will see its players gain access to the course, as well as receiving tuition from Dunnikier’s resident pro, Alistair McDonald.
Dunnikier are also promoting a new ‘Get into Golf’ initiative, with an open evening taking place at the club at 7.30pm tonight (Thursday), aimed at encouraging new and returning golfers into the game, with a cheaper three-month ticket for all seven Fife Council courses running from July to September, which also includes lessons.
A similar scheme in East Ayrshire resulted in a high uptake from women, and details of the Dunnikier Park offer are available on the club’s Facebook page.
A further link-up has been established with local schools, with each hole named after a nearby primary school, that will see various classes visit the six-hole course for an activity day.
“A lot of clubs are struggling to attract young kids and keep them,” Raymond added.
“That is our future. The game is getting older, and it will eventually be unsustainable if we’re not getting the youngsters coming through.
“If you can get the kids joining, then the parents join, then they have family meals here, so there are far wider benefits to the club if you can grow the junior section.
“The good thing for us is that we’re making changes because we believe in these things, rather than being forced into it because we’re struggling.
“A lot of clubs are in a do- or-die situation, but we’re in a stronger position than that.”