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Brian_Ewen

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The Demise of Letham Grange
« on: October 31, 2004, 06:58:37 AM »
From Scottishgolf.com
 
Letham Grange GC is closing
7 OCTOBER 2004
Letham Grange GC - considered one of Scotland's finest inland courses - and its 42-bedroom mansion house hotel - will close for business this weekend, on Sunday October 10.

Both courses at the complex, the Old and the Glens will be shut down and 40 staff made redundant. A skeleton green-
keeping staff will be retained through the winter to stop the courses falling into complete disrepair but the hotel and the resort's curling rink will both be mothballed.

Staff only found out yesterday (October 6) that they would be losing their jobs and it is not yet known how many people will comprise the skeleton green-keeping team.

Fraser Gemmell, general manager, said: 'This is a real blow. We are all naturally disappointed that the place is not
trading and that staff have lost their jobs. It's very frustrating to think that Letham Grange is not being given
the opportunity to be what it should be - a great Scottish course.'

An Edinburgh firm, Matthew Purdon Henderson, was appointed liquidators in November 2002 after the Taiwanese owner of the property, Dong Guang Liu, transferred it to 3052775 Nova Scotia Ltd in February 2001. An action has been raised in court to recover a title to the property.

A legal expert told us: 'If you have financial difficulties and you transfer your property to someone else then you are
depriving your creditors, the people to whom you owe money, of the chance to get their money, or some of it, back. It's called the alienation of assets - putting them out of the reach of creditors.'

The case is subject to ongoing court proceedings and Matthew Purdon Henderson refused to comment.

Letham Grange Old, designed by Donald Steel, opened in 1987 to immediate acclaim, was dubbed the 'Augusta of the north' and has regularly hosted prestigious events such as the 1994 and 2000 Scottish Strokeplay, and the 2003 Scottish Youth Championships. It is consistently listed in golf magazines as one of the UK's top inland layouts.

David Scott, the director of golf at Kingsbarns, who was Letham's resident pro for nine years, told ScottishGolf: 'LethamGrange always had great potential but the right owner never came along, but with the right investment it would have to be within the top-10 of Scotland's inland courses.'

The club has 500 members who are unlikely to lose too much financially because since the liquidator was appointed they have been able to pay their membership dues in quarterly instalments.  

Brian_Ewen

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Re:The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2004, 07:03:11 AM »
I know a few of us recieve Martin Voudsen's Scottish Golf Newsletter , so I am surprised no one has posted on his mentioning of the closure of his home course Letham Grange .

Letham Grange has always had a troubled existence .The original 18 hole "Old Course" was designed by an Commodities Trader called Ken Green who did most of the design and routing of the course himself . Donald Steel lists Letham Grange on his website and I am led to believe he was called in to design the greens . Unfortunately Mr Green ran out of money before the course was finished , and it has gone through several owners since then.

I remember playing Letham Grange with friends on the year it opened in 1987 , and it seemed to introduce a different type of golf than what we had grown up with . It was as big a course as I had seen up to then , almost 7000 yards from the back tees . We all moaned about sore legs afterwards , mostly down to long walks between tees . The next time we played it we hired "Buggys" , another novelty to us (and we didn't enjoy it ) .

The golf we were told was more American than Scottish , this I think was due to the amount of water used on the course , again which was quite new to us . Still there was enough Scottishness in the course to keep me happy and the middle stretch of holes I have always thought were fantastic.

Over the years there has been quite a lot of changes to the "Old Course" , the last three holes were changed totally to allow more housing . Compared to how it was , the finish is pretty horrible nowadays , in my opinion .

There had been rumours of the courses demise for the last year or so , and I took a trip down to Letham Grange last Sept . taking my camera just in case it did disappear . We found a course in pretty bad condition , it was definitely "fast and firm" as there was very little grass on tees or fairways . The clubhouse had been closed already and we paid our green fee at makeshift desk set up inside the doorway . And what surprised me the most was , here was a club in financial difficulty yet they were asking £35 for a midweek round . Considering how many decent courses there are in the nearby area which are all under £20 , why were they charging so much ? . We never saw another golfer the rest of the day .

Someone mentioned to me yesterday , that the course is offically closed , but the Head Greenkeeper and an Assistant were maintaining the course and asking for donations from golfers as a green fee .

To be honest , I would doubt if Letham Grange disappears totally , but just in case I will add some pics. from last year .

As usual James Finegan has a nice review of Letham Grange in "Blasted Heaths and Blessed Greens" .

Brian



The 1st hole


When the last owner , who was Taiwanese , bought the course , one of the first things he did was add "Feng Shui" to the course , adding a lot of stones around greens all aligned properly ! .


The 2nd hole


The 3rd green


The par 3 5th . I was dismayed the first time I saw these metal barriers across the water hazards.


The par 3 8th hole


The par 5 ninth was probably my favourite hole on the course . The dogleg right , tee shot had to be correct to set up the dog leg left shot down to the green .




The par 4 , 10th .


This is the 10th green . What would you make of a green being propped up by sand bags ? .


The approach to the 11th green.


The lovely downhill par 3 12th .


Green of the par 4 13th


The par 5 14th I have always found a little controversial . Can trees really be used as a hazard like this ? .



The par 3 15th . The problem with adding houses around the course , meant more access roads were built , some like this one are ridiculous . I had a friend who just missed the green left , ball took a huge hop left , bounced on the road and ended up 50 yards away with no recovery shot .


The fairway of the par 4 18th .

« Last Edit: October 31, 2004, 07:04:39 AM by Brian_Ewen »

Paul_Turner

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Re:The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2004, 09:45:03 AM »
Thanks Brian.  I always thought that this course was entirely by Steel.  Looks to have some good green sites.  The 11th contours!
can't get to heaven with a three chord song

Bill_McBride

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Re:The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2004, 11:04:58 AM »
Those sandbags are pretty fugly.  We're using some kind of bank support system of geofabric now which actually supports grass, so we have pretty grassy banks growing down into the water, but very strong and no erosion.  Looks a lot better than the wooden bulkheads we formerly had, and definitely better than those sandbags.......

Otherwise that's a good looking course, some interesting holes.

Marc Haring

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Re:The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2004, 05:38:22 PM »
Thanks Brian.

Sad to see the demise of a course with so much hype and early promise. I never got to play it but remember it was a venue for the greenkeepers national championship but due to its remoteness the tournament was cancelled through lack of support. So much for Feng Shui!

Is this a case of building the wrong course in  the wrong place?

Brian_Ewen

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Re:The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2004, 09:45:59 AM »
""Is this a case of building the wrong course in  the wrong place?""

Marc
Yes , I think you are spot on .

Even for us Scots it was a nightmare to find . Its actually situated in Colliston and the nearest town to it is Arbroath , so its quite remote . How do you find enough members in this sort of area for a 36 hole complex ? .

Originally it tried to be a weekend retreat type of place , but considering the sort of places it was up against , it was going to be hard to attract that type of customer to this area .

When it first opened it was highly thought of , even the BBC filmed a Peter Alliss "play better golf" series here .

I keep forgetting to ask golfers who have played it since I took the pics , if the sand bags are still there . I wasn't sure if they were temporary or that was the way they wanted to go ? .

How about the trees down the left of the 15th green , apart from the fact , that it was always the worse green on the course , can trees be used as a hazard like that ? .

I will try and keep you posted of its future .
Brian

Brian_Ewen

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2023, 02:25:02 AM »
https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/angus-mearns/4540300/letham-grange-golf-club/

Letham Grange: See crumbling old golf resort once called ĎScotlandís Augustaí










Tom_Doak

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Re:The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2023, 10:03:42 AM »


When it first opened it was highly thought of , even the BBC filmed a Peter Alliss "play better golf" series here .



I think Brian was confused about the difference between opinion and marketing hype.  Clearly the comparisons with Augusta National were laughable, but that's the kind of quote that marketing money pays golf writers to write.


Although, I suppose there was a point in 1933 or 1934 where Augusta National was looking at the same fate.  [Thankfully they did not redesign their three finishing holes to allow for more housing.]  Good timing is important in the golf development business, as in most other things in life.

Thomas Dai

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2023, 11:46:30 AM »
I playing it a few times decades ago. Given the competition from other courses not that far away, its inland location, terrain, soil type etc and the top-end theme it seemed to aspire to Iím amazed it kept going as long as it did.
Atb

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2023, 02:04:09 PM »
Letham Grange was a very good golf course. The comparisons with Augusta werenít as far off the mark as you may think: The par-3 8th through to the downhill par-4 12th (later the 10th when the new course commandeered two of the original holes) really did have an Amen Corner feel about them. The water hazards on 8 & 12 in an already mature landscape was very new for Scotland in the early 80ís.


Clearly it was marketing hype but Letham Grange was indeed Scotlandís answer to Augusta at that time.

Robin_Hiseman

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2023, 03:48:50 PM »
I remember playing it with my father as a teenager in the late 80's, having read the Golf World 'Augusta of Scotland' article (which I still have on file. I was very excited to play a course unlike any other i had experienced at that time. It didn't disappoint.


Later, I was a member there for a couple of years at the turn of the millennium and enjoyed many a delightful twilight round, often with pipers playing outside the hotel. It was always a bit dilapidated and down at heel and i know from going in there on a professional basis that the owner invested next to nothing in the maintenance. It deserved better and could still be one of Scotland's most notable inland tracks in better hands. Sad to see it gone, but glad to have memories of it.
2023: Aberdovey, Liphook, Mill Ride (x9), Hillside, Lytham, Delamere Forest, Formby, Birkdale, Carya, Maxx Royal, Cleeve Hill, Sunny (Old & New), West Byfleet, Hoylake, East Berks, RSG, West Sussex, Hollinwell (x2), Alwoodley, JCB (x2), Beau Desert, Painswick (x2), Stranahan, Belfry (Brab & PGA)

Niall C

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2023, 07:45:54 PM »
I can't add too much to what has already been said but I do recall playing there and enjoying the day, 2 rounds on the same course - I think there were two courses but that might be my faulty memory ? It was certainly something different being a modern course that looked like a modern course compared to what else was about.


Niall

Tom_Doak

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2023, 09:41:16 PM »

Clearly it was marketing hype but Letham Grange was indeed Scotlandís answer to Augusta at that time.


In the same way that Grand Cypress was Florida's answer to Scotland?

Brian_Ewen

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2023, 03:00:28 AM »
I can't add too much to what has already been said but I do recall playing there and enjoying the day, 2 rounds on the same course - I think there were two courses but that might be my faulty memory ? It was certainly something different being a modern course that looked like a modern course compared to what else was about.
Niall


Yes Niall, the Old Course was joined by the New Course a couple of years after it opened.

Robin_Hiseman

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2023, 05:14:41 AM »
I recall walking around the New Course with the Head Greenkeeper. He recounted a tale about the construction of the greens.


The course wasn't built well and the contractor didn't understand the layering of a green sub-base. A number of the greens were built too low. So low that the drainage that should have been flowing out of the greens was actually flowing into them from the fairways. He didn't have any budget to fix them, so they often lay soaking wet until the water slowly seeped away.
2023: Aberdovey, Liphook, Mill Ride (x9), Hillside, Lytham, Delamere Forest, Formby, Birkdale, Carya, Maxx Royal, Cleeve Hill, Sunny (Old & New), West Byfleet, Hoylake, East Berks, RSG, West Sussex, Hollinwell (x2), Alwoodley, JCB (x2), Beau Desert, Painswick (x2), Stranahan, Belfry (Brab & PGA)

Brian_Ewen

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Re: The Demise of Letham Grange
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2023, 03:46:31 AM »
https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/angus-mearns/4785381/letham-grange-planning-bid/


Major plans to bring Letham Grange golf resort back to its former glory have gone before Angus councillors for the first time.

The proposal could result in a bid for hundreds of new homes on the sprawling estate near Arbroath.

Letham Grangeís Taiwanese owners aim to bring back the luxury mansion house hotel and re-develop the parkland golf course once tagged Scotlandís Augusta.

But residents on the estate have already signalled their opposition to more houses.

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