Camperdown Golf Course will close after the 2019/20 season, with a motion passed by a single vote by Dundee City Council on Monday evening.
Despite an impassioned speech by the club’s captain Ian McAlindon, and an amendment by the local authority’s Labour group, the motion to close Camperdown Golf Course was passed by 14 votes to 13.
Labour members suggested options including that no action be taken; that a further consultation was made; or that alternative means of sustaining the club were considered, including a community asset transfer.
Councillor Lynne Short voted with the SNP to support the motion to close the club – despite having raised a point of order in the chamber before the vote – suggesting the possibility of a community asset transfer – one of the options made by the Labour group in its amendment.
One member of the public said outside: “All that Ms Short’s vote shows is party politics comes first – it’s disgusting. They should vote to do the right thing or what the believe in, not what their boss tells them.”
Club captain Mr McAlindon said that there were some members who had lost their partners and, for them, the club “was their family” – whether they still played golf or not.
Mr McAlidon said members would regulalry use the club socially, added that of their 90 members, not one would join Caird Park – the other course run by Dundee City Council – which the local authority will now focus its funding on, through its arms-length organisation, Leisure and Culture and Dundee.
He also said the way the club members and staff had found out about the proposed closure, through the local media, rather than by the council or Leisure and Culture Dundee, was “disgusting”.
Leisure and Culture Dundee director Stewart Murdoch said informal discussions suggested there was “an over-supply of golf on Tayside” and that “no one wants to take on the costs of running” Camperdown.
A report before the council’s policy and resources committee said the gross expenditure on golf provision is in the region of £820,000 annually, with Leisure and Culture Dundee, requiring a subsidy of £440,000.
Implementation of the proposals, including the creation of a new driving range, could have reduced the subsidy to £54,000 by 2021, said council officers.
However, Mr McAlindon said a driving range was not a solution as there was one in such close proximity to Camperdown – at Downfield.
The council report said problems with the infrastructure at the course were identified in a 2016 technical report which indicated woodland management, drainage and irrigation would need significant investment to resolve and maintain playability.
A decline in golf participation nationally has been mirrored in Dundee with the number of rounds played at Camperdown Golf Course dropping from 23,968 in 2009/10 to 17,369 in 2018/19 with the club’s membership currently standing at 90.
As such, councillors were told the local authority was not in a position to fully subsidise the delivery of golf at both parks – and as a result Leisure & Culture Dundee would only operate golf services at Caird Park.
The vote was met with upset and angry faces in the public gallery as the motion passed by 14 votes to 13.
Labour’s Charlie Malone mentioned the ground could become “meadowland” and if that were to happen, it would be “the biggest act of cultural vandalism on this city in decades”.
Before the vote, council leader John Alexander said: “We have to recognise the real financial situation the council is in – too many in this chamber put their head in the sand.”