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Niall C

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #475 on: May 31, 2018, 10:52:19 AM »
Jon

More often than not the planners will recommend refusal if the statutory consultees make strong enough objections but thatís not a given. Sometimes they wonít because there might be mitigating factors. Effectively they look at in the round.

With regards to the notion that the planning committee will vote it through simply because RSPB and SNH havenít spent money, I think that very, very, fanciful to say the least. Firstly those bodies arenít that well financed that they can throw money about willy-nilly, and secondly I think it fundamentally mis-understands the role of SNH at least. SNH is an advisory body that has in its remit the stated aim to: ďsecure the conservation and enhancement of, and to foster understanding and facilitate the enjoyment of, the natural heritage of Scotland.Ē That doesnít mean they throw money at private landowners.

Whatever lease agreement that the RSPB had with the landowner is over, and you canít expect them to spend money on land they have no agreement on. And while weíre being honest, your issue with RSPB didnít originate with their objections over Embo  ;)

Niall

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #476 on: May 31, 2018, 11:23:00 AM »

Niall,


I am well aware of SNH's role and that they can be instrumental in securing funding for the upkeep of an area if it is of significance which might otherwise be lost were nothing to be done. As for the RSPB, you are sadly misinformed if you do not know that they are a very well financed lobby group. I understand what you are saying about not spending money on a property after the lease they had was over but that does not change the fact that they didn't spend a penny even when they had said agreement.


I have yet to meet a landowner with a good thing to say about the RSPB which speaks volumes.

Rich Goodale

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #477 on: May 31, 2018, 11:31:23 AM »
My wife and I walked the Coul Links again last month, and IMHO the land is good for golf but not great.  The shoreline dunes are not fit for golf and the internal land is boggy and needing significant improvement.  That being said, a link of links courses from Portmahamock to Tain to Skibo to Struie to Dornoch to Coul to Golspie to Brora to Helmsdale would be unique.


But would this links of links be adequate to rejuvenate southeast Sutherland?  I very much doubt it.  Dornoch as a destination died when the Burghfield House Hotel died in the early 90's.  The Royal Golf Hotel has been in intensive care for 10+ years and the Golf Hotel can be renovated only with mega bucks.  Mr. W's places are OK but small and expensive.  Long term visitors, such as my extended family, rent out houses when need be.


Sic transit gloria mundi......


Rich
Life is good.

Any afterlife is unlikely and/or dodgy.

Jean-Paul Parodi

David_Tepper

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #478 on: May 31, 2018, 01:07:34 PM »
"Dornoch as a destination died when the Burghfield House Hotel died in the early 90's."
Rich -

I know you have a sentimental attachment to the Burghfield. But, sitting here in Dornoch today, it sure looks like the town is booming.

The closed courthouse is now a commercial emporium featuring 3 new businesses plus the tourist office. The Cocoa Mountain cafe/chocolate shop has opened on Castle Street. There is a new restaurant opening next week on the High Street. There is a beauty spa opening in the business park. The University has built a sizable dormitory building. There are two new upscale B&B's (albeit small ones) in addition to the Links House complex. The dreary Spar grocery on Castle Street has become a "foodie" deli. Luigi turns away multiple would-be customers at dinner nightly.

My guess is at least 100 new homes have been built here in the last 5 years. There is a new residential development taking shape on the road towards Embo (which has been widened to 2 lanes for most of the way). Construction of the 24 two-bedroom apartments in front of the Royal Golf Hotel is nearing completion and about half the apartments have already been sold (at rather stiff prices ;) ).

I am often surprised by how many non-golf visitors pass thru Dornoch on any given day.
No doubt the town needs more accommodations and more capable people to work in these places. The challenge will be to make a large enough profit over "the season" to ride out the dark and dreary winter months.

DT 
« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 01:21:56 PM by David_Tepper »

Kalen Braley

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #479 on: May 31, 2018, 01:38:57 PM »
I've read all 20 pages of this thread, and most of the various articles that were linked including the lengthy environmental impact ones.  I know there is rarely a consensus in this biz, but I can't recall another proposed site where the opinions are all over the map than this one.


Between its special designation status, some who think it'd be a crime to build a course here, and others who think the land is just OK. Contrasted with all the comments from the other side of it being an epic location, terrific addition to the area, being a potential top 100 in the world, (and I know Mike K has a great track record with picking his sites and all.)


Just hard to make heads or tails of this one from where I sit...

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #480 on: May 31, 2018, 05:00:33 PM »
Honestly, I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole project, but my blood really boils when I see some arsehole on FB say, and I quote: "let's turn this wilderness into something worthwhile".
Ignorance of the highest order.
F.
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #481 on: May 31, 2018, 05:03:01 PM »
Honestly, I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole project, but my blood really boils when I see some arsehole on FB say, and I quote: "let's turn this wilderness into something worthwhile".
Ignorance of the highest order.
F.


Well, that's Facebook for you!
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Rich Goodale

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #482 on: May 31, 2018, 05:18:47 PM »
"Dornoch as a destination died when the Burghfield House Hotel died in the early 90's."
Rich -

I know you have a sentimental attachment to the Burghfield.



David


You are right about the first sentence in your reply.  As to the rest of your reply, you do not know what Dornoch was like in the 70s and early 90s.  It was Nirvana.  Yes it is "booming" now, but for all the wrong reasons.


C'est la vie...


rfg
Life is good.

Any afterlife is unlikely and/or dodgy.

Jean-Paul Parodi

Marty Bonnar

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #483 on: May 31, 2018, 05:39:58 PM »
Honestly, I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole project, but my blood really boils when I see some arsehole on FB say, and I quote: "let's turn this wilderness into something worthwhile".
Ignorance of the highest order.
F.


Well, that's Facebook for you!


Yes,
If it's not some eedjit making stupid comments about golf course development, it's some other eedjit asking about leftover chicken!
 ;D ;)
F.
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

Ian Mackenzie

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #484 on: May 31, 2018, 05:58:35 PM »
"Dornoch as a destination died when the Burghfield House Hotel died in the early 90's."
Rich -

I know you have a sentimental attachment to the Burghfield.



David


You are right about the first sentence in your reply.  As to the rest of your reply, you do not know what Dornoch was like in the 70s and early 90s.  It was Nirvana.  Yes it is "booming" now, but for all the wrong reasons.


C'est la vie...


rfg


Indeed.
I feel your pain there, Rich.


Lots of places were nirvana in the 70's. Too many to list like: Nantucket, MA, Naples, FL, Carmel, CA, Harbor Springs, MI.
Now, big money dominates there.


But, global population was 4B in 1975.
Today, it's damn close to 8B.

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #485 on: June 01, 2018, 03:27:34 AM »
Despite my reservations on this project, Adamís article did get me quite excited.


The idea of the varied vegetation, including a few holes through dune heather, could make for a lovely course if dealt with well.

David_Tepper

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #486 on: June 01, 2018, 05:50:02 AM »
"As to the rest of your reply, you do not know what Dornoch was like in the 70s and early 90s.  It was Nirvana.  Yes it is "booming" now, but for all the wrong reasons."

Rich -

As the saying goes, "nostalgia just isn't what is used to be." ;)

You are right. I don't know what it was like in Dornoch 30-40 years ago. I don't see why that matters.   

My point is the town is thriving today. For reasons you may or may not care for, it is attracting new residents, new businesses and a growing stream of visitors.

If the Coul Links site is as good as Bill Coore has said it is, I have every expectation the course to be built there will be be a success both artistically and commercially. (assuming of course it gets planning approval)

DT
« Last Edit: June 01, 2018, 05:52:34 AM by David_Tepper »

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #487 on: June 01, 2018, 06:45:08 AM »
I think one of the points Rich is trying to make, and I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong, is that a lot of the visitor business is transient whereas before Dornoch was more of an end destination where people stayed for a week or so. That of course is one of the arguments put forward in favour of the development in that it will possibly encourage visiting golfers to stay longer. I'm not at all convinced that that will be the case.

I tend to think that the visits of golfers will still be somewhat transient and if they stay long enough to play a second course like Embo, it will be at the expense of somewhere like Brora or Golspie, and then having had their second round they will swiftly move on.

Niall

Sean_A

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #488 on: June 01, 2018, 06:51:21 AM »
I think one of the points Rich is trying to make, and I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong, is that a lot of the visitor business is transient whereas before Dornoch was more of an end destination where people stayed for a week or so. That of course is one of the arguments put forward in favour of the development in that it will possibly encourage visiting golfers to stay longer. I'm not at all convinced that that will be the case.

I tend to think that the visits of golfers will still be somewhat transient and if they stay long enough to play a second course like Embo, it will be at the expense of somewhere like Brora or Golspie, and then having had their second round they will swiftly move on.

Niall


Do you think folks will move on if they have more choice of lodgings?  To me, this has always been a problem with Dornoch.  Its a decent enough town, but eating, drinking and lodging are a bit limited.  Many folks can forgive the eating and drinking issues, but not the lodgings...especially if they are booked through a tour company.


Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #489 on: June 01, 2018, 08:21:51 AM »
Sean

That's a good question. When I think back to family holidays when I was kid and we stayed in the Burghfield House Hotel, the holiday largely revolved around golf with mainly games at Dornoch (championship course for my dad and eldest brother, and Struie for myself mum and other brother) with the odd day trips to Golspie or Rosemarkie. Obviously I've no way of saying now what the relative costs were back then but I'd imagine the cost of the golf would have been quite modest compared to now, with the cost of the accommodation probably being the major consideration.

These days, it's generally the other way about especially with greenfees well over £100 a round. Dornoch does have cheaper accommodation (Eagle Hotel I think it's called which I've stayed at and is OK) so there is a cheaper option there. I just tend to think that when on a golf trip and paying that kind of money for a round of golf, you tend to have an over-riding urge to try another course with the law of diminishing returns and all that.

That seemed to be borne out by many at BUDA who didn't seem to be playing a lot of courses on repeat (BUDA of course excepted) while on their travels.

Niall


David_Tepper

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #490 on: June 01, 2018, 09:09:57 AM »
Niall -

At the risk of being rude, do you seriously think the circumstances of how you & your family visited Dornoch 30+ years ago is really relevant to how people visit Dornoch for golf today? Was the bridge across the Dornoch Firth even built back then?  ;) Were the courses open for play on Sundays? ;)

Things have changed appreciably in the 15 years I have been coming here. There are now direct flights to Inverness from London (at least 3-4 a day), Dublin, Amsterdam and Bergen, Norway. Most of these flights did not exist even 10 years ago.

DT
« Last Edit: June 01, 2018, 10:10:46 AM by David_Tepper »

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #491 on: June 01, 2018, 10:44:36 AM »
David

That's not rude at all, a fair question. However that was my point, the difference between then and now and why things are different (IMO). I've no idea about bridges and sunday golf but I can tell you things were a lot more informal. There were no starters at RD for a start, no tee sheet, and if the pro (singular) wasn't around when you teed off you squared him up when you finished the round. And you didn't need to bust the bank to do it either.

I also totally appreciate the difference a good air connection makes, or indeed the lack of it. For example the Ayrshire clubs lost an awful lot of visitor greenfees when Prestwick and Glasgow lost a lot of the Scandinavian routes. My question to you though is with modern visitong golfers, do you think they are basing themselves elsewhere or are they more or less moving about as they go from course to course ?

Niall

Kalen Braley

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #492 on: June 01, 2018, 11:01:39 AM »
Niall,


Nothing really stays the same, it all evolves into something else for better or worse.  I understand the nostalgia for old times and all, but even then we usually have a selective memory for how things actually were.


I think the only context this potential new project should be considered in is the present and future.


P.S.  I will admit my own bias in that when I hear stuff like the "good old days" it often feels too close to "Make America Great Again"

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #493 on: June 01, 2018, 11:12:41 AM »
Niall -

Clearly the golf course is now a major commercial engine for the town and even for the county of Sutherland. During the summer season, anywhere from 50 to 100+ local people could be working in some capacity at the course on any given day. The course now needs 30-50 caddies almost every day!

Assuming Coul Links does get built (and assuming it ascends to a top 25-50 in GB&I rankings), there may or may not be a "spillover" effect for the other local courses (Tain, Brora & Golspie). My guess is the tour bus crowd and the "belt-notchers" will come play RD/CL on day 1, have dinner and stay the night in town and play the other course the next day. Maybe some of them will be so taken with the courses and the area they will come back again to spend a week and play some of the other nearby courses.

But there are plenty of flats, apartments, houses, etc. that are rented on a weekly basis to visiting golfers and are heavily booked. As I mentioned earlier, there are 24 two-bedroom flats overlooking the 1st tee at RD now under construction that will be available for rent in the coming months.

Given RD's large non-resident membership, no doubt many of the weekly rentals are made by visiting RD members. But many of those visiting members bring their friends along to play at RD and elsewhere.

Just this past week there were 8 guys here from Minnesota. I think 3 of them are RD members. They come in May almost every year to spend a week playing at RD and the other local courses. They almost always bring along enough guys to round out two 4-balls.

DT
P.S. Even if the tour groups and belt-notchers stay in Dornoch for just one night (and don't play any of the other local courses), another 30-50 people having dinner there and staying in a hotel or B&B nightly is bound to have a positive impact on the financial well-being of the town. Whether that is enough to justify the building of Coul Links on that site from an environmental perspective is not for me to say.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2018, 12:18:01 PM by David_Tepper »

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #494 on: June 02, 2018, 07:00:10 AM »
Kalen

It was no mere exercise in nostalgia for me, although it is nice to remember happy times. My point was the change in what visitors did then and what they generally do now, notwithstanding DT's comments above. If you like the short version;

Then - maw, paw and weans stay for a week playing some golf while availing themselves of all the other attractions Dornoch has to offer, spending money in bars, restaurants, shops etc.

Now - golfers arrive, play golf, and then tend to move on. Will another course change that ?

David

The golf course has always been a big attraction for the town so no change there.  I'm also not doubting that RD has an almost unique place in the affections of many north American visitors and many like you join the club and take advantage of longer stays. The question however is whether this is going to make any difference to the transient golfer ? And as a supplementary question what knock on effect will it have on the other courses, good or bad ?

Time will tell.

Niall

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #495 on: June 02, 2018, 07:15:44 AM »
I think it will _probably_ get approved, because there is no doubt that local opinion is very strongly in favour, and it is the local council that will take the decision. Not Coul is all outsiders; check out some of the addresses on their petitions and objectors. But it is not cut and dried; such are the ways of democracy  :)


I don't see the project getting called in by the Scottish Executive. Partly because they got badly burned over Balmedie, and partly because Messrs Warnock and Keiser have made it clear throughout that they are not interested in a drawn-out planning battle. If the council votes no, they walk away.

Adam,

Like you I think it will get approved. I'm less convinced of the Scottish Ministers actions if it doesn't, or indeed if it does ! In theory they could call it in if the Council give approval which would be a fairly bold step. In my experience when Scottish Ministers "call in" an application it is usually because the council have granted consent for an application that goes against policy. Balmedie is the only exception to that that I know of (the Council turned down the application) although I dare say there have been other examples.

In the unlikely (IMO) event the council refuses consent then I don't think Mr Keiser and Mr Warnock will be that quick to pack their bags and head home. While they say they wouldn't be interested in getting into a long drawn out planning appeal (Trump said the same thing if I remember correctly, just saying  :D) I've got to think that's a negotiating stance. To get to this stage they will have spent a fair amount of money, and I suspect they have received some generally supportive noises from Edinburgh.

Niall

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #496 on: June 02, 2018, 07:36:55 AM »
Sean

That's a good question. When I think back to family holidays when I was kid and we stayed in the Burghfield House Hotel, the holiday largely revolved around golf with mainly games at Dornoch (championship course for my dad and eldest brother, and Struie for myself mum and other brother) with the odd day trips to Golspie or Rosemarkie. Obviously I've no way of saying now what the relative costs were back then but I'd imagine the cost of the golf would have been quite modest compared to now, with the cost of the accommodation probably being the major consideration.

These days, it's generally the other way about especially with greenfees well over £100 a round. Dornoch does have cheaper accommodation (Eagle Hotel I think it's called which I've stayed at and is OK) so there is a cheaper option there. I just tend to think that when on a golf trip and paying that kind of money for a round of golf, you tend to have an over-riding urge to try another course with the law of diminishing returns and all that.

That seemed to be borne out by many at BUDA who didn't seem to be playing a lot of courses on repeat (BUDA of course excepted) while on their travels.

Niall

Niall

I guess my belief is that if another course is built there will be more spill-over play for the smaller clubs in the area....IF Dornoch can provide the amenities to keep the tourists in town. The Trump Aberdeen deal didn't have anywhere near the lodging issue of Dornoch because of Aberdeen down the road, but the other nearby clubs did very well with more visitor bookings.  Of course, imo, this should have nothing to do with the actual building of the proposed course because in the big scheme of things we are talking tourism peanuts compared to the (imo) very high risk of permanently damaging a special site.  Plus, the developer has little if any control over the increase of amenities in the area.  I think approval is a much closer call than some do...50-50 because a paid professional the Council engages made a recommendation for refusal.  It will really come down to a few cllrs pushing things along with powers of persuasion and to some degree that depends upon how much localized groups are getting in their ears.  Many cllrs will be open-minded enough to be persuaded to go against recommendation, but it depends on the persuasive powers.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 23, 2020, 05:29:52 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #497 on: June 02, 2018, 08:03:51 AM »

I think for Coul Links to succeed in its stated goal of getting people to stay longer in the area and play some of the other courses is dependent on getting a multi-play ticket that gives UK based golfers the chance to access RD and CL at a reasonable price not the £100 plus rack rate. For this to be a reality it needs the locals in Dornoch, Golspie, Brora and Tain to really step up their game to offer enough, decent quality, value for money accommodation and attractions. Dornoch is leading the way and Tain is on the way but Golspie has a long way to go and Brora is simply dismal.


Jon

Niall C

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #498 on: June 02, 2018, 08:37:20 AM »
Sean

We've spoken off line about Councillors and the respective local political systems either side of the border so you know my views. You will also appreciate I can't say too much on here in that respect but lets just say I don't quite share your thoughts on Councillors.

I do however 100% share your sentiment about whether it is worth sacrificing a special environment for the projected returns, especially when less sensitive land is available adjacent.

Niall

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #499 on: June 02, 2018, 08:52:55 AM »
Jon

I fully agree with your comments on cost of greenfees etc but then I'm speaking selfishly although I am also probably typical of a fairly sizeable demographic in terms of golfers. Budget/low rent accommodation will be important in this regard as you rightly point out.

It does occur to me though that the advent of the North Coast 500 will potentially bring in a lot more visitors than the golf will, although whether they would hang around for more than a day is also debateable.

Niall

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