Area golfers claim they are being bunkered after green fees were hiked at eight times the rate of inflation.

Three golf clubs using Dalmuir Golf Course have written to Councillor Jonathan McColl, leader of West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) over fees jumping 24 per cent.

The course has been up for possible closure in the past two years as WDC faced millions in budget gaps from rising costs and declining grants in real terms from the Scottish Government.

Clydebank Overtoun, Clydeview Cleddans and Radnor Park clubs said they were concerned about the pricing strategy for the municipal course and feared members would leave over the massive increases.

Cllr McColl said he would look again at the policy but could not give any commitment.

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In 2018 adult season tickets were proposed to jump 30 per cent from £280 to £364. But clubs feared it would cost more members and revenue than it would bring in. Negotiations brought the price down to £310.

Now the 2019 price has been set at £384, a £74 increase in a year for those in the adult category.

Other fees include weekly subscriptions, locker hires and more, with annual bills of more than £500 total.

Joe Marr, past captain of Clydebank Overtoun writing on behalf of the clubs, said: “Would you be willing to pay 24 per cent more for a product you have previously purchased, knowing its going to be exactly the same product?

“No new or additional features to justify the price hike. Would you pay it? This is the question you are asking every person who has faithfully bought their season ticket and supported the course and their local clubs year after year.

“We find it disgraceful that you choose to ask us this question as this will drive golfers away from the game.

“There has been no improvements to your facilities and no attempt to entice more footfall therefore the easy option to generate additional revenue is to hit financially the people who support the course and their local clubs year after year.”

The 2018 budget consultation gave the public the option of shutting or reducing the golf course, as did the 2019 survey before it was axed when money was found elsewhere to close the budget gap.

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Fees were approved at the last full council meeting on March 28 and the clubs were only told of the hikes on April 1, after weeks of the clubs collecting annual fees at the old rates plus 3 per cent inflation.

Mr Marr said: “Initial response is that this will prevent existing members from remaining and deter new members from joining across all clubs.

“We will need to refund every member who decides this new season ticket price cannot be justified and wishes to leave. This is an unacceptable position that you have put both club and member in.

“We request that you revise the costs of the season tickets. We also wish to hear your long term plans for the facilities and what level of investments is planned.”

Cllr McColl told the Post tightening budgets was making it more and more difficult to deliver non-statutory services.

He said: “The fact that we’ve been able to balance the budget this year without making any cuts to services is quite frankly a miracle, and one that we are unlikely to be able to repeat in future years if we remain part of the UK going forward.

“We recognise the importance of the municipal golf course and the benefits it brings for health, well-being and social inclusion, and we are doing everything we can to keep it going.

“While we still see a steady volume of day visitors, more and more people who want to be club members are choosing to join a local private members club, despite the extra costs associated.

“I have received two emails regarding the charges and I will look again at the policy, but I cannot give any commitment to a particular course of action at this time.”

Labour hit out at the charges, which they had vocally opposed in the budget meeting last month.

Councillor Lawrence O’Neill told the Post he was disappointed in the fees increase without consultation.

He said: “The massive increase (24 per cent) to golfers at our only municipal course leads us to believe that the current administration do not value the contribution that this service provides and to then attempt to mitigate their decision by saying that it is still cheaper compared to local private golf clubs across the area is an insult to the many members of the public who utilise the course.

“Despite this massive hike players also need to make additional payments to the golf clubs or societies that utilise the course as well as the locker fees without any investment in the facilities provided on site where even a hot drink or something to eat is not provided or available.

“All private clubs are able to provide these basics and the Labour councillors in opposition will continue to support those who wish to play at Dalmuir Golf Couse and would encourage them all to contact members of the administration to register their disgust.

“There remains no need whatsoever to have levied any additional charges as Labour councillors, supported by Councillor Jim Bollan of the Community Party, proposed no management adjustments (cuts) and no increase of charges (outwith inflation related charges).”

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The golf course was threatened during the previous Labour administration as well, with a proposal in 2014 to reduce it from 18 holes to nine. Labour halted the idea. The West Dunbartonshire Pro-Am, set for May 25 this year, has also repeatedly been considered for cuts.

Cllr Bollan added: “In the first budget passed by the current SNP administration they introduced a new budget heading called ‘commercialisation’. When the SNP were questioned about this at the time they could not give examples of what ‘commercialisation’ meant.

“We now know: well above inflation hikes in charges for council services. Many other vital service increases have ranged from 5 to 20 per cent.”

Dalmuir Golf Course fees 2019

Fees set for April 1 to September 30, 7.30am until 9.30pm (last tee-off 8.00pm) include costs by round or annual fees: Adult: £14 (weekday), £22 (weekend), Juvenile: £7 (weekday), £10.80 (weekend), Concession: £10.80 (weekday only)

Golf season ticket: £384 (adult), £70 (juvenile) £135 (60+) £180 (concession), £62 (over 70)

Locker fee: £34.50 (per year), £21 (concession)
Four-ball: £54 (weekday), £81 (weekend)