Check out Ran Morrissett's interview with Alfie Ward, creator of the Arbory Brae course and world class traditionalist. I suppose this could be viewed as good news for those going to Scotland hoping to play lesser known gems without seeing Americans, but otherwise, it's pretty sad:
13. As technology goes unchecked, what is the future of the numerous sub-6000 yard courses around Scotland (and the UK & Ireland for that matter)? Is their appeal in any way lessened?
Excellent question, and one which gives the greatest concern of all (IMO). You know, history does repeat itself – maybe because life itself is a cycle of fashion and trends ? It can be argued that these fashions and trends were the death knell for numerous courses and their respective clubs circa 1930 – 50’s in Scotland, and most probably, elsewhere in the UK ? At this time, golfers became more selective in the courses they played because they had the advantage of travelling far greater distances than they could have previously! Support for the smaller courses dwindled as visitors travelled further afield and in pursuit of superior challenges at the longer courses. So too, and still do, are those seeking membership to a club. Who’s to say that the same scenario isn’t about to be repeated in the next few years ? I reckon it’s happening already, and so too, I think, does the Scottish Golf Union ! Of Scotland’s 500 plus courses, there’s probably about 300 (minimum) that don’t meet the 'must play' expectations of the modern tourism golfer ! Why ? Because they’re instantly deemed much too short from the yardage stats in the first instance of course selection. So the appeal factor is diminished from the outset, and so long as technology in golf goes unchecked – then life isn’t going to get any better for the vast majority of courses (worldwide) that are lagging in this mad distance race !
In response to reports of serious concerns over the state of Scottish golf and falling club membership numbers (Nov 2004) I undertook a little research on Scotland’s golf courses. Of 503 registered in the 2003 Golf Guide I found that 155 (31%) were sub 5500 yard layouts ; 113 (22%) 5501 – 6000 yards ; 185 (37%) 6001 – 6500 yards ; and 50 (10%) 6501 yards and over. In direct relation to the question you ask Ran, and if my personal concerns are justified – then that puts over 50% of Scottish courses under the 'at risk' umbrella ? That is, if fashion and trends and unchecked technology has anything to do with it ? I believe it has !