CLYDEBANK’S golf course continues to grow as the sport has taken on new fans during the pandemic.

The town’s municipal golf course was considered for closure more than once in the past five years as West Dunbartonshire Council struggled to plug millions of pounds of budget gaps.

Instead, the local authority put extra effort into pushing memberships and turnout. And the course saw one of the few positives from Covid-19 as residents could keep active outdoors and be socially distanced.

Politicians and golfers welcomed the turnaround for the “jewel” of the municipal course, which now will require less taxpayer subsidies to keep it running.

Council bosses proposed shutting the golf course to save £232,000 in 2018 along with reducing bin collections and gritting footpaths.

With another budget hole in 2019, golf fees went up by 20 per cent.

But there was concerted opposition from members of the Clydebank Overtoun, Radnor Park and Clydeview Cleddans golf clubs to the rising fees while the condition of the course declined.

Season ticket prices rose from £146 in 2019/20 to £250 last year as the council went on a marketing kick to boost users, including amongst their own staff.

The target was to increase season ticket sales to 250 and save £30,000 in 2020/21. Though that goal wasn’t met with the pandemic, between April and October this year, there were 264 members and 5,800 visitor rounds of golf played. In the entire 2017/18, there were just 3,635 rounds played.

And although costs have gone up for the course, there has been a complete reversal in three years of income and the subsidy from taxpayers.

In 2019/20, there was just £57,000 in income and £130,000 from council coffers. The current year estimates £155,000 in income and just £47,000 from taxpayers. The savings have ended up at a projected £83,000 compared to the £30,000 target.

Labour Councillor Lawrence O’Neill told the West Dunbartonshire Council meeting on December 22 that the course was “well regarded”.

He said: “We have almost doubled the membership numbers. During lockdown, people needed to be outdoors and exercise outdoors.

“We are more than happy that this work continues, that the golf course is saved and continues to be affordable and is attractive to members of the public. And long may it continue.”

His colleague, Councillor Gail Casey, added: “It’s the jewel in the crown here in Clydebank and I’m delighted to see the progress made and we don’t have to worry about it for a wee while yet.

“As someone looking at the prospect of retirement, I may be looking at joining the ladies section - or I might be a golf widow.”

Depute Provost Karen Conaghan said: “I’m really glad to see the course going from strength to strength.”