Hazlehead captain Ross Watt is delighted the MacKenzie course in Aberdeen is on the way back to its former glory days.
Still affectionately remembered as the “No1” course, the Alister MacKenzie-designed creation is one of the best layouts in the north-east.
Under the care of Hazlehead head greenkeeper Sandy Pirie and previously his father, the MacKenzie course was regarded as the best municipal layout in Scotland in the 1970s and ’80s.
However, a lack of maintenance revenue from owners Aberdeen Council saw drainage failure and a gradual decline, and the threat of the course returning to its original marshland base.
Thankfully, the formation of Sport Aberdeen and the work of volunteers from the Hazlehead membership has seen a reversal in fortunes at the MacKenzie course over the last few years.
Certainly, there can be no complaints regarding the quality of the greens and the future looks much brighter for the other playing areas.
Ross said: “There has been a staggering improvement in the condition of the course followed by the programme initiated by Sport Aberdeen and drainage consultants Duncan Ross in 2018.
“Phase one saw work at the second, third, fourth, sixth, eighth, 13th, 14th and 15th, while phase two – which covered the first, seventh and 17th – was completed at the start of this season.
“The new drainage ensures there are no lasting puddles on the third, fourth and eighth fairways and the other holes are much drier for play.
“Future work will mainly consist of maintenance on those new drainage areas to continue the improvements.
“We still have a group of volunteers who continue to do a fantastic job and the club has also funded equipment to help them.
“Now the course is returning to its former glory, we hope to work with Sport Aberdeen to bring back traditional tournaments like The Quaich, the Aberdeen Trades Foursomes and the North-east Alliance.”
Hazlehead Golf Club gets membership bump in part due to MacKenzie course work
The future looks bright for Hazlehead Golf Club after increasing their membership by more than 150 new faces this year.
Ross Watt admits it is a pleasant surprise after many clubs had seen their numbers fall in recent seasons.
Hazlehead captain Ross said: “A combination of the MacKenzie course improvements and the lack of other restricted activities, due to Covid, is probably the reason for the surge in uptake.
“Our membership has increased from 250 to well over 400 which is fantastic and I’d like to think it’s mainly due to the improvements.
“Next year’s annual fees are only £154 and when you add the cost of the Access to Leisure Golf adult pass of £336 it is very competitive compared to other private clubs.
“The senior pass is only £212 which makes it even more appealing.
“Some of our loyal members, who stuck with us through the difficult period, are also welcoming back some of their old golfing partners and remembering the old times.”