Carnoustie Golf Course Hotel
control over tee-times on the 'public' championship course
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More important matters discussed at forum
D McNicoll, Letter to Editor, The Courier, 27 October
Sir,What a disappointment it was to read the report
(October 26) on the Carnoustie Area Forum. It will be obvious to the 100 or so
residents who attended the meeting your article was taken from a prepared
communication from Angus Councils media services department or Councillor
The subject matter of your account - more visitor times for
hoteliers and guest houses - was not the number one issue on the minds of the
public gathering. That issue lasted two minutes, whereas other salient matters
occupied much more time.
It was pointed out that Angus Councils proposal to
replace the current Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee with a
three-tier structure was rejected out of hand by the CGLMC. Indeed the present
chairman of the Links Committee, Bill Gardner, informed the assembly of the
Links own response for a re-structured committee, stressing it would be
democratic and accountable.
The subject of indemnity for the CGLMC in the event of
legal action was raised as Angus Council currently does not cover
the committee even though the golf courses are a public facility and the CGLMC
manage them on behalf of Angus Council.
However, the most important item was the course access
agreement and its failings. I can assure you, ensuring more visitors gain
access to the course was not what was uppermost in most peoples minds.
What residents wanted to hear was when and if the agreement was going to be
Councillor Murphy said he was confused at Press reports
that said all three parties were keen to find a solution when he was under the
impression the Carnoustie Hotel was satisfied with a legally-binding
Therefore the outcome of the forum differs greatly from
your report. All three parties are not 'in talks agreeing the current situation
is unsatisfactory. The truth is the residents of Carnoustie look to be
saddled with this wretched agreement until 2033, and one of the serious
consequences of that is hard working members of the community are not going to
have access to their course for the next 33 years.
Mr McNicoll is incorrect in his initial statement.
The information was not taken from a prepared communication. I attended the
forum and listened to the discussions. Much of what was said regarding the golf
course access agreement has been said on numerous occasions in the past and
both sides of the argument have already been covered at length by The Courier.
- Colin Hogarth.
Who made decision for Carnoustie venue?
D W Bond, Letter to Editor, The Courier, 19 October
Sir, With the announcement of the re vamped Dunhill
Tournament being played over three golf courses, The Old Course, Kingsbarns and
Camoustie, it again raises the question - who is running Carnoustie Golf
I spoke to a number of Links Management Committee members,
and none of them knew anything of the arrangement of Carnoustie being part of
this National Pro-Am.
Who made the decision on behalf of CLMC for the course to
be a venue for this tournament? Is it a case of the landlord making
deals without the tenants permission?
No intimation has been made in the minutes of the committee
When The Open was at Carnoustie, it was the worst attended
event in the previous 11 years of any Open venue. Local hotels have not
benefited, in fact, several hotels and guest houses in Carnoustie have since
Attendance at the Dunhill has never been spectacular due to
the time of year and the poor weather associated with it. This is coupled with
a mediocre field of players as the top American players have more important
things on their minds like qualifying for the top 30 in their order of merit
which enables them to play in the lucrative Tour Championship.
No doubt the season ticket price will be increased again
this coming year with a further reduction in playing access.
Someone in the Angus area obviously knows who made this
agreement behind the backs of the Golf Course Committee. Its about time
the whole situation relating to access and tournaments and just who is running
Carnoustie Golf Courses was brought out into the open.
£750,000 plans to expand golf hotel would create
The Courier, 7 April 2000
A £750,000 expansion of the Carnoustie Golf Course
Hotel is planned with the creation of around 20 new jobs. Planning applications
have been lodged with Angus Council for extensions to the gym, bar and pro shop
at the complex on Carnoustie Links.
Hotel owner Michael Johnston said the development would
lead to more people being added to the staff, who hail predominantly from
Carnoustie and the surrounding area.
Once we settled in we saw areas that could be
developed and these changes are for the good of the hotel. We are continually
looking at ways to make the hotel better, he said.
If the project gets the go-ahead from planners, the gym
will be doubled in size, the pro shop will be extended to offer a wider range
and a conservatory will be added to the bar and restaurant on the patio area
overlooking the first tee of the Championship Course.
The conservatory will add a new dimension to the bar
and restaurant, said Mr Johnston.
We get a lot of sunshine on that side of the
building and it will allow people in the bar to get a great view over the
course. We want to create a bistro-type atmosphere there where people can come
and enjoy a meal.
Mr Johnston said that the developments highlight their
commitment to Carnoustie and to creating new local jobs.
He added, We are a major employer in the area and
weve always wanted to employ local people and weve a very good
staff throughout the complex.
My aim now is to go forward, expand the hotel...and
give a boost to the local community in the process."
Future of golf hotel swings in the balance
Millionaire behind luxury development for Carnoustie
links liquidates other assets
Alan Gill, Scotland on Sunday, 7 February, 1999
This summer, when Carnoustie hosts its first Open
Championship for 24 years, the famous club plans to celebrate its return to the
international golf circuit with the opening of a £6m hotel overlooking
the 18th green.
But a question mark hangs over the future of the hotel,
whose board members include Scotlands former lord advocate, Lord Fraser
The millionaire behind the project has been forced to
liquidate part of his business empire, owing creditors hundreds of thousands of
pounds. Michael Johnston, a former Dundee plumber who has become one of
Scotlands most successful property developers, has folded his
Busters chain of fish and chip restaurants with debts of £350,000.
Johnston has lost a personal shareholding worth more than £2m in the
George Lamont, a former councilIor who resigned from Angus
Council over allegations of secrecy surrounding the hotel development, was
astonished at the news. His [Johnstons] commercialism must be
suspect. Is he going to go bankrupt? The builders have been sailing pretty dose
to the wind to complete in time for the Open and now this has cropped up to add
even more doubt. I am flabbergasted.
The Busters restaurants in Dundee, Newcastle and
Manchester closed last year with the loss of 150 jobs. No buyer was found and
the assets of the business are now being sold off at rock-bottom prices. The
creditors have virtually no chance of getting their money back.
One of them is Andrew Nicoll, whose Dundee architects firm
carried out work on the restaurants. We have lost tens of thousands of
pounds and I dont think our chances of recovering any of it are very
good. This is not some small trader who has experienced bad luck. This is a
wealthy businessman who has decided to pull the plug on one of his companies.
It is not good practice and the law should be tightened up to plug these
It is not the first time misfortune has struck Johnston. A
shop-fitting business firm he owned, lBS Ltd, was wound up in 1996 with debts
of £600,000. Jim Fyffe was one of Johnstons creditors.
I had a firm which made suspended ceilings. We did
work for him in one of his cinemas and he took us for £21,000 when lBS
folded. I never got a penny.
The first restaurant opened in Stacks leisure park in
Dundee on the former site of Camperdown jute works, which Johnston transformed
into a housing and leisure complex. It was that deal which created him an
estimated £14m fortune and all the trappings of wealth. He has his own
aeroplane and a fleet of expensive cars, including a £450,000
His company has persuaded the Carnoustie Golf Links
Management Committee to surrender its famous Craws Nest logo
and the title Carnoustie Golf Links as part of the contract to build the
85-bedroom hotel, which will double as the clubhouse.
So Johnston will be able to market the logo worldwide,
taking advantage of the massive exposure the Open Championship will bestow.
He will also receive £75,000 a year from the
committee for rental of office premises within the hotel - despite the fact
that the golf club made a donation of £300,000 towards the cost of
building the hotel.
Meanwhile, Lord Fraser, who became a non-executive director
of the hotel last year, was not perturbed by the news. I dont
actually see that there is any question over the viability of the hotel and
there not being enough money to complete it.
When Scotland on Sunday attempted to contact Mr Johnston
there was no response to our phone calls and no-one was at home when we visited
his new £250,000 bungalow on the outskirts of Dundee. more Golf Development
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