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The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A), is stepping up work to take golf back to the people in Scotland with an ambitious plan to re-think a Glasgow golf course, and the OSS will follow its development every step of the way.

The R&A stepped in when Glasgow Life – the leisure trust that manages the citys sport, leisure and culture facilities on behalf of Glasgow City Council – announced that it was seeking partners to take on management of more than 60 facilities struggling to survive in the wake of the Covid pandemic. The R&A last year took over the running the Lethamhill Golf Course, one of six public courses in Glasgow, situated to the north-east of the city.

The project aims to redevelop the existing public course at Lethamhill to create a family ‘golf destination’ with nature trails around Hogganfield Loch and into the Seven Lochs Wetland Park, a cafe, education area and a small cinema alongside a nine-hole course, par 3 course, putting greens, adventure golf and a floodlit driving range complete with helter-skelter slide.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “We want to make golf more welcoming and inclusive for people of all ages and backgrounds and so we need to appeal to them by offering a variety of fun and affordable activities that entice more families and young people into the sport. We are excited by the prospect of establishing a facility in the heart of the local community in north-east Glasgow that provides an accessible pathway into golf and inspires people to get out, have fun and experience the many health benefits that playing golf with family and friends can provide.”

The R&A appointed Russell Smith as the development manager and he has met with the OSS CEO David Ferguson and Chairman Geoff Aberdein to discuss how the OSS can help to research the impact of the innovative approach, and the role it plays in attracting children and adults from more deprived communities into the sport of golf.

David stated: “This is a very exciting initiative being steered by the R&A, but it is the partnership with Scottish Golf, Glasgow Life, the council, the local schools and community groups, that gives it the potential to create something long-lasting, beneficial to the community and genuinely sustainable. That is what excites us at the OSS.

“We have been talking to stakeholders in Scotland and across Europe around how sport can be rethought and remodelled for the 21st Century, to reverse declines in participation and remove the new barriers to activity, and this is an example of how that can be done in a way that has strong community benefits. Public golf courses are actually popular places, for all ages of people, but the costs have become too much as state funding in community sport and recreation continues to reduce. New innovative partnerships like this are the secret to changing that.

“We are looking forward to working with the R&A, and Russ and the team at the new facility at Lethamhill, watching the development take shape and learning and sharing insight with stakeholders across Scotland, whether they are managing golf courses or other facilities.”

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