I am not much of a golfer.
Admittedly, I’ve only played once and, while my performance drew favourable comparisons to that of North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Il, the game never became the obsession for me that it has for so many others.
Nevertheless, that does not mean I’m immune to a twinge of sadness at the thought of Dundee losing one of its two municipal courses.
According to people who know about these sorts of things, the course at Camperdown is far superior to the other public course at Caird Park.
But, with the need to make significant improvements to the course and a big old Regional Performance Centre for Sport opening at Caird Park, bean counters at Dundee City Council are recommending shutting Campy in order to reduce the subsidies paid out to support golf in the city.
But the bitter truth for Dundee City Council – and local authorities up and down the UK – is that the bean counters are now the ones who are really in charge. The colour of the rosettes worn by the ruling councillors matters less than the fiscal reality that is punching your elected representatives in their faces on a daily basis.
So, while the loss of a municipal course is sad, it is probably only the start of a harrowing that will leave our communities utterly diminished.
In Dundee, the council will have to find savings and efficiencies totalling nearly £80 million over the next 10 years, with a big chunk of that to come next year.
“Savings and efficiencies” is, of course, the polite way of saying cuts.
Camperdown Golf Course may just be the first of many amenities and services to be lost in the years to come.
The blame for Camperdown’s impending demise has fallen to the SNP administration.
But the likelihood is years of austerity and the deadening economic impact of Brexit means their hands are tied to a large degree. Things can, to paraphrase D:Ream, only get worse.
Take, for example, the decision to sell off their shiny new headquarters at Dundee House and then lease it back from their new owners, the insurance company Canada Life.
Most of the money made from the sale will pay off outstanding debt on the building and the actual saving comes from the rent being (slightly) cheaper than their annual debt repayments would have been.
It’s not quite the council equivalent of a payday loan but it is in the same rented ballpark.
Councils everywhere are having to trim all possible fat from their budgets so they can continue to provide the most necessary of services.
For the average council tax payer that means two things: rising bills and less to show for the money they pay.
Many of the services we take for granted will be under threat in the coming years.
Local government is increasingly becoming a thankless task for both elected representatives and officers and it is impossible to see that changing any time soon.
It makes Dundee’s decision to bring the V&A to the city all the more remarkable. The museum has had an immediate impact on the city’s self-image which is justifying its hefty price tag.
The council ploughed £15 million into construction of the museum and is contributing significantly to its running costs.
Yet it is already seeing a return on its investment with early estimates suggesting the V&A delivered a £10 million boost to the city’s economy in its first 12 months.
Remarkably, the museum was built during the peak years of austerity, although plans for it were first mooted long before the economic crash.
But it seems it may be a long time indeed before any council is able to stake such a large sum on its future, even if it has the courage and foresight to do so.
Given the success of the V&A so far, that can only be seen as a tragedy.
A Partridge takes flight
And so to Bath in leafy Somerset, where a new political party may be created to settle Scotland’s constitutional future.
Stuart Campbell, the blogger who runs Wings Over Scotland and loses defamation cases against Kezia Dugdale, revealed in an interview with The Times that he might set up a party to contest list seats in the 2021 elections.
Given the success of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, Campbell may indeed make a triumphant return to Scotland, which he described as the “most gutless country in the world” in the same interview, as a bona fide politician in a couple of years’ time.
Then again, Twitter popularity – or notoriety – is not necessarily indicators of electoral success.
He also, hilariously, posted a recording of the interview on his website which revealed the most Alan Partridge-like response to a question you are ever likely to hear.
When asked what book he had on his bedside table, the self-styled reverend hummed and hawed before stating: “Metaphorically, it’s 1984”.