Portobello Golf Course is set to be redeveloped to be made more family friendly in response to dwindling user numbers.
The move has stunned members of the Edinburgh Leisure-run club who were only given six weeks’ notice of the changes and offered no consultation. The first many heard of the changes, set to start from the end of next month, were signs pinned to the clubhouse doors.
The nine-hole course that opened in the 1880s and was used by former amateur world champion Ronnie Shade is expected to reduce to six holes. Frisbee golf and foot golf will be introduced in a bid to attract more families and provide a pathway for juniors in the city.
Portobello Golf Club’s Lyall Scott told the Evening News: “It is very short notice. There are pros and cons to the plans, but we are concerned that there has been no consultation period and there has been no opportunity to feed back.”
With many of their subscribers over the age of 60, there are fears of the impact the changes will have on them.
Diane Crolla, captain of the Portobello Ladies Team that celebrates its 125th anniversary next week, said: “What are the older members going to do? They can’t go anywhere else. I’m feeling quite sad about it.”
On the course website, a statement from Edinburgh Leisure reads that members can make use of the nearby 18-hole Craigentinny Course and will still have “access” to Portobello.
But for 78-year-old John Douglas, who plays at the course up to five times a week, the larger club is not an option. He said: “I meet up with two friends there most days. I have a lot of trouble with my health now, which is why I took up golf again, but I can’t play 18 holes. A nine-hole course is great for elderly people.”
Mr Douglas pays £240 a year each for himself and his friends to play at the 163-year-old course.
An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: “In response to the ongoing decrease in use at Portobello, we have been exploring the potential to reconfigure the course to attract more youth and families into the game.
“Portobello Golf Club will not be closing, but we are looking to make it a family friendly area with lots of different golfing activities and a six-hole beginners, juniors and family friend fun course. Our proposal will provide the perfect pathway for junior golf, which is limited within the city.
“We are currently working with our current members to find a workable solution.”
Maureen Child, Labour councillor for the area, said: “This proposal from Edinburgh Leisure came totally out of the blue for me and other local councillors as five Porty golfers have raised it with me within the last 12 hours. To present the closure as a decision already made is premature to say the very least. Is this is the start of a genuine consultation? Local people were told it was a done deal and that is neither right nor fair.”
Portobello Indoor Bowls and Leisure Centre was turned into a gymnastics hub and soft play centre in 2013 in response to a city-wide shortage of available gymnastics spaces.
A meeting will be held at 10am tomorrow at the golf course to discuss the proposal.