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Avoiding sunbathers is par for the course

It has to be one of the world's most challenging golf courses.

Players taking to the historic Bruntsfield Links may not have to worry about bunkers and water traps, but face altogether more ­unpredictable obstacles.

Sunbathers, barbecues, and impromptu football matches all fight for space with the golfers on the free pitch-and-putt course.

And the problem has become so bad that moves are under way to hire a dedicated park ranger to keep the fairways clear.

Although the entire Bruntsfield Links and Meadows are considered to be "common land", campaigners have argued that, because the short-hole course has been in place for more than 200 years, it should be accepted as a golf course and respected. The city council has now agreed to investigate the best way of protecting the course, including increasing ranger patrols.

John Simon, who has lived in the area for four decades and regularly uses the course, said: "I have tried to educate people not to play football, throw Frisbees, fly kites, light barbecues, or picnic on Bruntsfield Links summer course when it is open for play; pointing out to them that it is not only a matter of courtesy, but also in the best interest of their personal safety, considering the standard of some golfers.

"It's more that they don't know rather than refuse to move.

"Can cyclists now wheel through a football game or frisbee players play through a cricket game?

"That is unreasonable behaviour, and so is interfering with the game of golf on an area dedicated to that purpose for the past 200 years at least."

Meadows/Morningside councillor Paul Godzik, whose motion calling for action was passed by the council, said additional patrols were necessary to allow golfers to go round the 36-hole pitch-and-putt course in peace.

"I think the course is very important in terms of the history of golf in general," the Labour councillor said.

"It's a significant site and there should be something to promote it and make it the best it can be. It is a golf course, after all, and it should be treated like one.

"There have been reports of near misses, and there is a difference of opinion. Some people think it's the golf that should cease.

"But there is plenty of room in the Meadows and the rest of the Links for other activities."

A council spokesman confirmed a new plan for the area would tackle the issue.

He said: "The parks and greenspace service aims to produce a five-year management plan for Bruntsfield Links and the Meadows to be launched in July 2009.

"As part of this process the heritage of the site will be fully investigated and a plan agreed as to the best ways of promoting the site, which will of course include the historic connections to golf."

A SLICE OF HISTORY AT BRUNTSFIELD

It was more than 400 years ago that a ball was first struck with a stick on Bruntsfield Links.

And since then the short-hole course has lived in various forms as both a full- blown club and to what it is now – a free attraction with dozens of challenging pitch-and-putt holes.

The Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society is the fourth oldest in the world, and in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle the venue became increasingly popular, so much so that by the mid-19th century some members moved to a course in Musselburgh to escape the congestion.

In 1898 the society moved to its present location overlooking the Firth of Forth in Barnton.

But the spirit of the original society very much remains in Bruntsfield, and the course takes up a small slice of the sprawling green mass that is the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links.

Visit Bruntsfield Short Hole Golf Club


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