Pitlochry Golf celebrates sportscotland funds
Pitlochry Golf Course is being tipped to produce international players after sportscotland investment allowed it to press the green light on a major development.
Plans to create a new £200 000 Centre for Excellence at the scenic course were dependent on support from the national sporting agency.
Directors have now received confirmation of assistance from sportscotland.
And work will get underway this Autumn on a 7-bay covered driving range and short-game practice area, which will give it the best facilities in Highland Perthshire.
Pitlochry Golf Course has produced Ryder Cup star John Panton and Walker Cup player, Cecil Bloice in the past.
With these two elements of a major plan now in place, officials believe it is only a matter of time before the club is producing new stars of tomorrow.
“Pitlochry has always produced very good young players. Cecil Bloice, for example, went on to play Walker Cup and successive committees deserve credit for emphasizing youth,” said Club Captain Jeff Carter, a respected individual within golf.
“With what is happening here now, though, with all the development, I have every confidence we will produce more Walker Cup players.
“Having good short game practice areas is vital for developing players but most clubs can’t provide this. This will bring people here because there is nothing similar within striking distance.”
Club Directors hope this element of the blueprint will be operational by Spring 2013.
A further nine hole course is planned at the club, which is undergoing the biggest improvement in its history.
Currently, youngsters are taught three nights a week at the club and the successful junior membership amounts to almost 20 per cent of the town’s youth.
However, young players have traditionally had to travel to Perth or Gleneagles to get specialist practice facilities.
And officials believe that standards and levels of participation can only rise now in the whole of Highland Perthshire.
“We have some real young ones here and, in winter, they cannot practice. With covered bays it won’t be a problem. They will soon see the benefits,” said Junior Convenor, Bert MacKay.
Pitlochry Golf Limited Director Stephen Carruthers reckons the area and golf, as a sport, will see a major benefit.
“This is a partnership in promoting youth golf between the operator, Pitlochry Golf Limited, and Pitlochry Golf Club.
“In an area like this, lack of facilities means kids don’t get as many opportunities as those in larger population centres so this is a great opportunity on their doorstep.
“We aim to be the hub of golf in the area so people from the outlying towns will be able to come here and go back to their own member clubs and improve the junior sections there.
“The game in the whole area will get a lift and we are delighted with the support from sportscotland.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “We are delighted to be providing Pitlochry Golf Course with money from our Sports Facilities Fund to help develop this excellent new facility.
“At sportscotland, we are committed to working with our partners to put in place a world-class sporting infrastructure to help Scotland’s athletes and participants of all ages and abilities, and this project will especially help the development of young golfers in the Highland Perthshire area.”
Planners Give Green Light to 'Centre for Excellence'
Pitlochry Golf Course Directors have welcomed planners’ decision to approve their Centre for Excellence development, claiming it will take golf provision in Highland Perthshire to a new level. Perth and Kinross Council’s development control committee granted permission on Wednesday 19th October for work to proceed on the ambitious £200 000 project at the scenic course. Groundwork could now begin as early as next month, with the wide-ranging improvements giving Pitlochry Golf Course the finest facilities in Highland Perthshire. A 12-bay covered driving range, short game area and 9-hole Academy Course will be introduced along with two par 5s on the existing course, which was designed by Willie Fernie of Troon in 1909.
At present, no clubs in the area provide facilities which enable players of all ages to work on every technical aspect of their game. Directors believe the planners’ decision is hugely significant, not only in the history of the course itself but in terms of sports provision and for driving tourism in Perthshire.
“This decision is very welcome and we look forward to getting the work started now,” said Director, Richard Drummond.
“This is a milestone for the course and will make Pitlochry a major golfing destination. The development will create jobs and we will also be bringing people into the region which will, in turn, impact positively on tourism revenue.
“The only course which will have similar facilities in the whole of Perthshire will be Gleneagles. Naturally, we are very excited about the future.”
In recommending the blueprint for approval, development quality manager Nick Brian said the proposals would ‘significantly improve the golf course facilities’, highlighting the potential for developing the sport’s future generations. The plan was also praised for its environmental detail, with Directors working closely with council environment officers, SNH and the Scottish Golf Environment Group. New wildlife corridors, wetlands and improved pathways for walkers will be accommodated, with officials acknowledging ‘significant improvement to biodiversity’ on-site.
“The flora and fauna is diverse and we worked hard to ensure the plan incorporated this,” said Director, Jon Erasmus.
“As well as providing wetlands and wildlife corridors, we will be providing routes for walkers which will be much better and safer.”
With approval now granted for one of the biggest single developments in the club’s 102 year history, the news represents another chapter in its renaissance. There were serious concerns over its long-term viability until Co-Directors Drummond, Erasmus and Stephen Carruthers secured a 30 year lease from Pilochry Estates Trust in January 2010. Since then, clubhouse bar and restaurant turnover has doubled and membership has risen 6 per cent per year to over 400 members and 100 community members. Director Carruthers believes the new development will accelerate and cement the progress made, with aspirations to produce a Scottish junior international by 2018.
“This takes away limitations we have had in the past and provides people with an affordable facility, open to all, where you can do everything from putting and chipping to 18 holes and everything in between.
“The changes to the course itself, with the par fives, also makes it a more varied and complete experience for the golfer.”
The final piece in the development jigsaw is confirmation of assistance from Sportscotland, with the national agency for sport looking favourably upon the venture. Two PGA professionals will be on-site and techniques such as state-of-the-art video coaching will be available to help visitors master the intricacies of the game. The projected timetable for each phase, subject to funding confirmation, is late Spring 2012 for the driving range, with the academy course and practice area to follow later in the year.
£200,000 ‘Centre of Excellence’ blueprint
Pitlochry Golf Course yesterday unveiled a £200,000 ‘Centre of Excellence’ blueprint that will give the course the finest facilities in Highland Perthshire. The major development, which is set to create 4 new full-time jobs, will see the introduction of a new driving range, short game area and an Academy Course. There will also be further improvements to the existing course, with the introduction of two Par 5s, new wildlife corridors plus improved paths for local walkers. The development is one of the biggest projects in the club’s 102 year history and marks a milestone in the renaissance of a course which shaped the skills of Ryder Cup legend, John Panton.
Serious doubts existed over its viability until businessmen Richard Drummond, Stephen Carruthers and Jon Erasmus secured the lease from Pitlochry Estates Trust in January 2010. Since then, the trio have transformed the club, with Golf World Magazine recently listing Pitlochry in its ‘14 Scottish hidden gems’. At present, Gleneagles is the only facility in Perthshire to offer visitors a similar range of facilities to those being planned at Pitlochry. The course’s Directors believe this investment underlines their ambition to make Pitlochry Golf Course one of the best inland facilities in Scotland. “What we are developing here is a Centre of Excellence for Golf,” said Director Stephen Carruthers, who has been a member for 38 years. “We will have practicing and coaching facilities that will only be matched in this area by Gleneagles. “There are a number of courses in the region but they don’t have practice facilities so we hope to be a centre for all golfers, even those who are not members here. “The improvements will give us facility where everyone will be welcome, whether they are playing for the first time or seeking top level coaching.”
Perth and Kinross Council planning officials are due to make a decision on the project within the next two months. Providing this is granted, the driving range will be operational by Spring 2012, with the short game area ready in the summer. The Academy Course is planned for Spring 2013, with the new Par 5s introduced during the process. Two PGA professionals will be on-site, with one dedicated teaching professional deployed and video coaching facilities introduced.
Directors are hopeful of Sportscotland funding for a development they feel will help position Perthshire as a new golf tourism ‘destination of choice’. “Too many courses outside of the big golf areas are described as hidden gems. By doing all of this, Pitlochry will become a golf destination in its own right,” said Director, Jon Erasmus. “What this means is that Perthshire will have a must-play, must-visit facility.”
Co-Director Richard Drummond agreed: “This will bring people to the area, helping the local economy. With so many promising young players coming through here, too, the standard of golf at junior level will improve greatly.” Since acquiring the lease, the businessmen have revolutionised clubhouse dining and are have refurbished self-catering accommodations to a 4 Star luxury standard. The club has 500 members at present, 20 per cent of whom are community members who use the facilities for dining and recreation. One of its current members is national sporting heroine, Eve Muirhead. More renowned for her feats on the curling rink, the multiple world junior curling champion is also a two times Ladies Club Champion at Pitlochry Golf Course. She believes the new developments will make Pitlochry a major draw for golfers. “These developments will take Pitlochry Golf Course to a different level,” said the 21 year old, who plays off a handicap of 2. “It will enable players to really improve their game and, because there are few such facilities around the area, it is great to see Pitlochry getting up there alongside the top courses.”
These are exciting times for Pitlochry Golf as we plan to undertake major new developments and improvements over the upcoming months & years – plans have been prepared for a driving range, short game area, an Academy Course and a rerouting of the existing 2nd hole to create a Par 5.
We will be introducing new wetlands, woodlands and wildlife areas in order to create new habitats and allow the development to blend in with the existing landscape. Below are some PDF downloads with details of the proposed developments.