Course of action to stop Montrose Golf Links sinking into sea divides golfers

The fifth oldest golf course has been a victim of erosion for the past 20 years
The fifth oldest golf course has been a victim of erosion for the past 20 years

Golfers in Montrose are divided over plans drawn up to stop the fifth oldest golf course from falling into the sea.

Over the last 20 years, the 453-year-old course has been eaten away by a combination of wind and water.

The sea is eroding the Montrose coast

The sea is eroding the Montrose coast

Now, Montrose Golf Links are proposing changes to some of the holes to preserve the Medal Course created by legendary Scottish golf course designer, ‘‘Old Tom’’ Morris, from St Andrews.

Last month an extraordinary meeting was held where proposals were shown to around 100 season ticket holders.

A meeting of the Golf Links board was held last night (Tuesday) and overall layout plans will now be on display in all the Montrose golf clubhouses until February 5.

Golfers will have until this date to submit their comments to Montrose Golf Links.

What is being proposed is that holes one, three, seven and 18 be reduced in yardage and holes two, six and eight be increased.

The biggest increase would be to hole six, extended from 510 to 600 yards.

This has caused a division among golfers with some in favour of the plans and some against.

Tom Cole, a member of both Montrose Caledonia Golf Club and Royal Montrose Golf Club, said he felt the plans might only take into consideration professional golfers and could turn local players away from playing in the town.

He said: “Action needs to be taken to stop the erosion but I believe the current proposal of extending the sixth par to 600 yards isn’t the 
right one.

“A lot of members in are in their late 50s and 60s and may not want to play on holes that long. These members want to play a pleasant and challenging game of golf.

“We want to keep current members, we don’t want them going off to other clubs.

“Nothing is going to be done for a couple of years, so I think we need to explore other avenues before we make changes to the course.”

Another Montrose golfer, who favoured the proposals, said: “It’s a wonderful idea for the future of golf in Montrose.

‘‘It’s a really exciting project that could bring some big names in golf here and could get the younger generation more enthusiastic about starting to play.

“Some people are only thinking about playing golf in their lifetime on the course but we have to think about the future.

“We only have to look at the weather this week see what can happen. More of the course could easily be swept away.”

The winter storms of 2013/14 had a considerable impact on the historic Golf Links with coastal erosion causing the loss of dunes at the edge of the fairway between the second and fifth holes on the Medal Course.

The original sixth tee disappeared in 1994.

Angus Council engineers confirmed in November 2014 that the rock armour and dunes at tees two and three were at risk from the sea.

Architects Hawtree produced three options for Montrose Golf Links.

The first two were similar and the third would have resulted in nine holes of the Broomfield Course being lost.

The Golf Links Board of Directors and Angus Council decided on the second option.

Claire Penman, secretary of Montrose Golf Links, said: “Nothing is set in stone yet, these are just proposals. The main thing we want is to have our season ticket holders on board. Our objective is making sure everyone is singing from the same hymm sheet.

“However, we can’t just sit around and do nothing. The erosion is stable at the moment but we don’t know what could happen if we have another bad winter.

“We estimate that over the last 10 years we’ve lost about 50 or 60 yards of the course into the sea.”

She explained that existing tees on the sixth hole will be taken out of play and a number of new tees created to the north of the existing fifth green.

These tees will be “flexible” and it is not intended for the hole to be played at 600 yards all the time.