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Prime land sale could trigger golf club boost


By Graham Crawford

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The ground and third hole at Tarlair Golf Club which the club hopes to develop for housing.
The ground and third hole at Tarlair Golf Club which the club hopes to develop for housing.

The ground and third hole at Tarlair Golf Club which the club hopes to develop for housing.

THE sale of prime housing land overlooking the sea in Macduff could be set to pave the way for a massive upgrade of the clubhouse of Royal Tarlair golf course.

The golf club has lodged an application with Aberdeenshire Council for planning consent in principle for eight houses which would back onto the course.

However, the bid has hit an early snag. Council officers say part of the site in question is a former quarry and may be contaminated.

Aberdeenshire’s assistant scientific officer, Peter Exon, said: "If it has been backfilled, there is a possibility the land may be contaminated. Records also indicate there has been extensive tipping at the site."

Mr Exon added: "As well as possible potential contamination from metals and organic chemicals, if there is sufficient organic matter in the infill materials there is potential for ground gas.

"For some sites, the preliminary investigation may determine there is no appreciable risk and that further investigation is not required."

Club captain Billy Cruickshank (64) said that he was not aware of the quarry, just off the road to the disused Tarlair outdoor swimming pool, being used, back-filled or tipped in during his 40 years as a member of the club.

"It is just an old hole in the ground," he said. "This is prime building land, and we will leave it to the architect and the planners to resolve any issues about the land.

"Hopefully, everything will fall into place and planning permission will allow us to sell the site for housing and put the money into improving the course and the facilities.

"The course is beautiful and offers stunning scenery. We want to upgrade the clubhouse to make it more attractive to tourist trade as well as provide a community-based facility for future generations."

If the housing plans go ahead, the site would also encroach on the existing third hole. "We have plenty of room to change the layout of the course," said Mr Cruikshank, who is in his second term as club captain.

The club was officially opened on August 4, 1926 by the late Dr Walford Bodie, who lived in Macduff and was famed worldwide for his magic shows based on the use of electricity.

He predicted at the time: "With its rare atmosphere and magnificent scenery it will become one of the finest courses in the country, and that one did not feel tired but actually refreshed after a round."

David McCallum, a star of hugely-popular ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’ TV series in the 1960s, was a regular player there for many years as a guest of his aunt, the late Kitty Gardner, who was a keen member of the club.

The club is holding its annual charity open, this year in aid of the MS Society, on Saturday, May 21. A fundraising dance is being held the evening before, and tickets, £5, are still available from the clubhouse, tel 01261-832897.



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