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Access Issue - Kingsbarns Golf Links
Safe access around Cambo Ness
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At Kingsbarns Golf Links, walkers are reporting cases of shots fired from the 15th tee landing on the coastal path (at the point X shown on the illustration below), and golfers have been seen to fire 15th tee shots over the heads of people on the foreshore.

Cambo Ness

Safety on the coastal path

The tee shot at the 15th hole at Cambo requires to be played with some accuracy, if the ball is to be kept in the narrow zone between the woodland and coastal path on the left, and the rocky foreshore on the right. During the special tournament to mark the opening of the course, it was interesting to watch play at the 15th hole. Many of the invited, and presumably competent, golfers chose to play safe by firing tee shots inland towards the woodland. The problem with this approach is that golfers standing on the 15th tee will not be aware that the coastal path runs through this woodland.

The developer seems to have realised, very late in the day, that walker safety is marginal on the woodland section of the recognised coastal path (yellow route), and he has tried, at the eleventh hour, to reroute the coastal path (green) onto the golf path (blue) which skirts the woodland. [Fife council have sanctioned several route changes to the coastal path system since this plan was approved, but they have no record of this paricular change to the yellow route on any plans within the planning department (see here for more)]

The real danger point for walkers, however, may be at the point marked X on the diagram above. This point lies within the landing zone for many 'safe' tee shots to the 15th green. At this point walkers cannot see the 15th tee. Golfers cannot see walkers. I have watched three groups of golfers play the 15th hole, and I have seen two balls fall on the coastal path at this spot.

The developer may have to address this safety issue at some stage, and he may have to consider a more radical re-routing the coastal path. Fife Council may have to act in order to minimise their liability in the event of an accident on their much publicised coastal path. Walkers who were promised a safe, enhanced coastal path may want to ask questions.

Safety on the foreshore

There is a public right of recreation on the foreshore in Scotland. Users of the foreshore should not be expected to move out of the way for recreational golfers.

That's the theory. In practice, packs of golfers tend to expect certain privileges. At Kingsbarns, on the opening day, the invited golfers expected to play to the 15th hole as soon as the green was clear. They shouted at kids playing on the foreshore, and they allowed no time for those attempting to walk along the foreshore. They played shots over the heads of people on the foreshore. So much for the right to safe passage.

It is interesting to note that earlier groups of American golfers showed far more respect for people on the foreshore.

Recently, in a promotional piece entitled 'No crowning glory, but Kingsbarns comes up trumps', Scotsman golf hack Ian Wood seemed amused by the fact that " the time we arrived at the 15th, a staggeringly attractive par-3 of some 185 yards, flanked on the right by the sweep of a small bay and on the left, by woodland of a primitive nature, even these decent people were showing signs of strain and two of them cut their tee-shots on to the rocks (the tide was out), scattering women and small children who were rooting about for whelks and so forth......"

The Ramblers' Association anticipated trouble between golfers and users of the foreshore and they had this to say in their letter of objection (full text here) to Fife Council at the planning stages :-

There must be some doubt as to whether this hole could continue to be used if members of the public decided to exercise their right to use this part of the beach and foreshore, especially if they remained within the line of play of the 15th hole. Our understanding of the legal position is that golfers would have to give way to walkers in this situation and play could not continue.

There is mounting evidence to suggest that play will not stop, the golfers will simply play on and over the heads of those in their way. Quite where that leaves the golfer in the event of an accident remains to be seen.

It is interesting to note that the organisers of the Dunhill Links Championship had hoped to close the coastal path, feeling that "from a health and safety perspective anyone walking along the Coastal Footpath during the Tournament would be in danger from wayward golf balls....and .... it would have been negligent of us to have ignored our own concerns and those of our health and safety consultants". (full text of their letter to residents here)

This development has attracted much publicity. Read the news here

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