Drink drive law pushes Scottish Clubs to brink

New law is having an impact on Scottish Club finances

The post round pint
The post round pint
(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to recent newspaper reports, Scotland’s strict new drink drive law that came into force last December is pushing many Scottish Golf Clubs to the wall financially.

According to recent newspaper reports, Scotland’s strict new drink drive law that came into force last December is pushing many Scottish Golf Clubs to the wall financially.

The new law, lowering the legal driving limit from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol in the bloodstream has been in place since the 5th of December. It effectively means you are limited to less than a pint of beer to be safely below the limit.

The Scottish Golf Union warned last year of the perilous state of some golf club finances, which have seen memberships drop by about 20% in the last decade. Already this year, Castle Park Golf Club has closed down, becoming the third major Lothians club to go in the last two years.

According to the Edinburgh Evening News, many clubs saw a huge drop in takings in the run up to Christmas with sales plunging as much as 70% on recent years.

The Courier randomly contacted golf clubs, and the consensus was the new law was having an impact on their bottom lines.

“The new drink drive limit has definitely had an effect on our (and no doubt every) out-of-town establishment that holds a licence to sell alcohol,” said David Norman, director of Strahmore Golf Centre. “By January 20, our bar sales were down by 36 percent year-on-year and our restaurant sales declined again by 16 percent. This is very bad news.”

“Our regular members prior to the new legislation would drink a pint of beer after their game whilst enjoying the company of their friends and have a bite to eat. They would have known that they were within the drink drive limit," he added. “Not now. These same people, unsure of whether or not one drink is or isn’t too many, will likely curtail their visit, affecting both our bar and restaurant sales.”

Allan Shaw, president of the Lothian Golf Association, told Edinburgh Evening News: “This is certainly a threat to the existence of the clubs. They are struggling for membership and this is yet another challenge.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman told the Evening News: “It is putting lives at risk and it must stop. Our advice is simple, the best approach is to have no alcohol at all. Alcohol at any level will affect your ability to drive.”

It's hard to argue with that and Scottish Golf Clubs will have to look at new methods of retaining clubhouse revenues.

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?