A celebrated Perth golf course – famed for being the oldest in Scotland – has experienced a real boom in popularity since it was given a new lease of life.
An ambitious business plan for the North Inch was adopted by Perth and Kinross Council in 2016 and has proved to be an ace in the hole.
The number of rounds played on the course annually has more than doubled since 2016 while membership has nearly tripled and feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive.
Although St Andrews is recognised as the Home of Golf, the North Inch has an equally impressive claim to fame as Beazley’s World Atlas of Golf described it as the world’s “first recognisable golf course” and King James VI was among those to have played a round on it.
The council’s six-year business plan comes to an end at the end of March and has been heralded as a resounding success.
The number of season ticket holders has increased from 175 to over 500, while the number of rounds played per year has more than doubled from 8679 to 17,956, an increase of 107 per cent.
Daily green fee revenue has increased from £15,976 to £51,652 and season ticket income has risen from £26,230 to £106,586.
Overall revenue, which includes footgolf and sales of refreshments, has risen from £42,206 in 2014/15 to £136,512 in 2020 and to a projected £170,000 by the end of the financial year.
Environment and infrastructure convenor, Councillor Angus Forbes, is delighted with the transformation of the facility.
He said: “The rejuvenation of North Inch Golf Course is something everyone in Perth and Kinross can be proud of and it is a real asset for the community.
“The team have done excellent work over the past six years and the new business plan sets out how the course will continue to develop and attract new players.
“Golf has been played on the North Inch for over 500 years and it has an exciting future.
“Golf saw a rise in popularity during the coronavirus lockdown at North Inch but the golf course was also experiencing a rise in popularity before then.
“Our new business plan will help build on this, while ensuring golf on the North Inch remains affordable and accessible to all.”
Councillor Forbes added: “Running the course has also allowed us to take on Modern Apprentice greenkeepers and I was delighted to learn one of our apprentice graduates has found a full-time role as a greenkeeper at a private golf course in Perthshire and we wish them every success for the future.”