Sir, – After reading an article regarding the closure of yet another golf club, Blairbeth in Glasgow, it made me reflect on the state of the game.
I spent my working life in the golf industry and can recall when there were more golf club manufacturers in Fife than there are in the UK today.
Now we import equipment from the USA and the Far East.
Golf on television has encouraged the pathetic time it now takes to play 18 holes.
I saw a professional on television consult his yardage chart at least five times before playing a shot, meaning the book was in and out of his back pocket five times. What a turn off.
The golfing powers-that-be should be looking into all ways to cut down the time it takes to play the game.
Distance is another area which has spoiled the pleasure for the average golfer, who has to endure courses of extreme length.
This has increased the area required to construct the modern golf course and contributed to the ridiculous time taken.
Why don’t we listen to some of the great golfers who want to reduce the distance the ball can now fly.
Equipment has become ridiculously expensive, especially drivers with all the adjustment facilities built in.
As far as golf clubs go, we are losing an alarming number each year and we are told a lot is due to the new drinks law in Scotland.
This may have an impact but we should be more worried about the lack of young members who, I am sure, are put off by rounds taking more than five hours.
I started playing when I was 18 in 1954, which was old at that time.
I played at the local nine-hole club which had a very competitive membership.
It was not long before I was playing off a three handicap.
I played in the Central Fife Golf League where we had five clubs competing.
We played home and away and each club hosted competitions each year. There were no bars, the lady members prepared sandwiches and tea for us, we travelled in a hired bus to away matches and paid for everything ourselves.
The nine-hole courses in Scotland are looking for members.
They do not have waiting lists and operate on a much reduced membership than their 18-hole cousins.
There are fewer cleeks and everyone knows each other. Playing nine holes takes about 90 minutes and we operate according to the rules of the R&A and SGU.
Why not give your local nine-hole course a try.
JM Donnachie. Croft House, Leslie.
The rhetoric of division
Sir, – Derek Farmer’s persistent use of the term foreign refugee (November 20) clearly serves only to incite a negative response.
It is a word that adds no meaning, as all refugees find themselves outside of their country of origin.
However, his use of the word creates a dichotomy of us and them that is dangerous.
History has persistently shown that the rhetoric we use can unite or divide a people and adding foreign will only achieve the latter.
Secondly, the Scottish Government has not made a magnanimous gesture by taking in refugees.
In fact, we are fulfilling our legal obligation not to turn away or send back individuals who are fleeing persecution. These obligations are outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention.
The refugees have not been granted citizen or residency rights by the Scottish Government, as this issue is the prerogative of the UK Government which is undertaking stringent screening processes for all refugees who come to Britain.
The claim that two of the Paris assailants arrived as refugees is also outrageous.
Again, a refugee is an individual fleeing persecution and, therefore, any individual who arrives at another country to commit terror automatically fails the test of being a refugee.
But most importantly, his statement has no factual basis at all.
None of them were from Syria; instead the members of this despicable group were mostly Belgian or French nationals, with the one Syrian passport that was found has now been confirmed as faked.
Lucas McGregor. Wellburn, By Cupar.
A coup for the atheist view
Sir, – The clerical fascists of Islamic State, whose bombs and bullets have murdered thousands of people in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and now France, have done more to undermine and discredit their religion than any amount ofatheist propaganda could ever do.
Ian Stewart. Convener, Atheist Scotland, 33 Park Avenue, Dundee.
Blinkered rail arguments
Sir, – Jane Ann Liston of Team StARLink (November 20) fails to respond to any of the points put forward by myself and others.
Like a parrot, Ms Liston repeats her blinkered arguments made many times before; tourism, golf, commuters and the university for the return of a rail service to St Andrews.
If the lack of a rail service is detrimental to tourists visiting the town, can Ms Liston please explain how all the hotels, B&Bs and guest houses survive?
Similarly, the university appears to thrive without a rail service, as does the golf industry.
There are many more visitors, students and golfers in St Andrews today than when the town had a rail service.
From observation, most golfers visiting the town do so as pre-booked groups in dedicated coaches as part of a package holiday or in a courtesy coach provided by their hotel.
Does Ms Liston really think these visitors are going to change trains and carry all their baggage and equipment at each interchange after alighting from theirflight at Glasgow or Edinburgh?
Of course not. It is easier to be met at the airport and travel directly to their hotel with the assistance of an experienced driver and courier.
Finally, StARLink now appears to have changed its name to Team StARLink. How many are in the team?
Colin Topping. Crathes Close, Glenrothes.
Put minister on gardening leave
Sir, – Is it appropriate that SNP Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, should continue to front her party’s plan to convert the BBC into the SBC while still under investigation regarding Scottish Government funding of T in the Park?
Cronyism allegations against Ms Hyslop are serious and her last written response regarding the appropriateness of her £150,000 grant to festival organisers was widely considered inadequate.
Meanwhile, Ms Hyslop leads the SNP’s sweeping and controversial plans to change massively the nature of state broadcasting in Scotland; something of pivotal importance to all our lives.
Many believe such changes would render the corporation significantly more parochial in scope and content, distancing Scotland culturally from the rest of the UK.
With T in the Park funding now under investigation by Audit Scotland, we look to Nicola Sturgeon to ensure the committee’s investigation is thoroughly impartial and swift and, in the interim, place Ms Hyslop on gardening leave.
Needless to say, Ms Hyslop must be presumed innocent unless proved guilty and should be given the option to retain her £93,000 salary and associated benefits while her suitability for office is assessed.
Martin Redfern. 4 Royal Circus, Edinburgh.
Economic case still not made
Sir, – I refer to Richard Clark’s letter, Scottish jobs moving south (November 20).
He omits to take account of the fact that HMRC and steel industry job losses are not confined to Scotland, as he suggests, but are happening nationwide.
He goes on to make accusations of lies, scare stories and asset-stripping. Where is the evidence to demonstrate that this is part of UK Government policy?
The letter is yet another ill-informed attempt to persuade us that independence is the panacea for Scotland, irrespective of the fact that the SNP Government has so far been unable to demonstrate the economic case, and its inability to make such a demonstration will continue
because there is, and never was an economic justification for Scotland to go it alone in an aggressive and competitive world.
The scare stories seem always to have their origins in the contributions of those of us obsessed with the need for independence without the necessity of examining the rationale and consequences.
Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstruther.
Ignore views of climate sceptic
Sir, – John Cameron once again displays his scientific ignorance by trying to deny the existence of climate change Climate change is a scientific fact, established by empirical measurements of climatic factors over time.
The effects on the climate of human activities, such as emissions of industrial gases, burning fossil fuels and destruction of rain forests are also scientific truths.
That climate change exists and that human activity affects its direction and rate is scientifically established.
Like creationists and flat-earthers and people who think Elvis is still alive, Dr Cameron will never accept the reality of man-made global warming, no matter the evidence.
Dr Cameron can be safely ignored in all serious scientific debate.
Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee.