The original home course for Ryder Cup legend Sam Torrance is about to undergo sweeping changes, the News can reveal.
Proposals were made to redesign the 17th green and relocate the 18th tee at the historic Routenburn golf course, which sparked a flood of complaints.
Protesters say the historic 18-hole course, which is over 100 years old with a beloved classic design, will be irrevocably altered by the plan.
Operators KA Leisure say the move is aimed at protecting the safety of people after adjacent homes are reportedly struck by stray golf balls.
Routenburn is famous as the home club for the Torrance family; the place where Sam learned to play under the expert guidance of his father Bob.
Current club champion Rory Acheson told the News he was against the proposals.
He said: “It’s a fantastic course and I think this decision would undermine many years of history. Nobody expected it and it is too much. Our club has been here since 1914, why should it change now ?
“The 17th green would be drastically shortened – I don’t think the situation warrants a revamp like this – that’s an overreaction.”
Largs historian Archie Burleigh is another who is determined to fight the movement.
He said: âThe course was established in 1914 and is designed by James Braid after being purchased for residents and visitors by Largs City Council.
âThere have been very few, if any, incidents of stray golf balls descending into adjacent properties from the 17th and 18th fairways.
âThere is a net on the 17th green and 18th tee, but it was left in disrepair. It was only very recently that it was repaired with a new plastic net.
“These changes will not solve the problem and the expense would be better diverted to make improvements to the greens, tees and trails on the rest of the course.
“I’m sure my proposal will be far more effective than wantonly destroying part of Largs’ history and the memory of one of the greatest course designers Scotland has produced.”
Conservative adviser Tom Marshall also believes the overhaul is a step too far.
He said: âI think Archie has a good point and it just takes stepping up the fencing.
âI think this is an overreaction from KA Leisure. Spending the money to strengthen the fence instead of changing the layout of the golf course – and given that the organization is 2 million pounds in the red I think they should look at all the options. ”
Cllr Timothy Billings, who sits on the board of KA Leisure, however, argued that changes were needed.
He told the News: âThe course redesign is necessary as the adjacent houses have a problem with stray golf balls ending up in their gardens and hitting their houses. This despite the high net that has been installed.
âKA Leisure wants to make sure that residents are not affected, so it was decided to redevelop this part of the golf course. We have looked at all the options and sought advice from the golf course designers.
“After evaluating all the options, the redesign was seen as the most effective option.”
A spokesperson for KA Leisure said: âFollowing the receipt of several communications from our neighbors regarding misplaced golf balls causing damage to adjacent properties, as well as several close occurrences of residents being struck by golf balls, KA Leisure has engaged with a specialist golf course architect. to complete a safety analysis of the 17th and 18th holes at Routenburn.
“The analysis took into account the likelihood of golf balls entering adjacent properties and possible risk reduction measures. The installation of a taller and higher fence was rejected on cost grounds because it is not durable due to the exposed site. Analysis has identified that the most viable solution to reducing the risk is to move the green to 17 and shorten the hole slightly at 18 by moving the tee forward .
âTherefore, changes to the 17th and 18th holes will take place during the winter months and information will be provided to all of our season ticket holders outlining the changes. A member of KA’s recreation management team met with a representative from Routenburn Golf Club. to discuss the impact of the changes on their members.