Twenty-five years ago, Newton Stewart Golf Club made the bold move to extend the town’s golf course from nine holes to 18.
This was a daring project due to the uncertain financial climate at the time, but the dedication and enthusiasm of the committee saw the daunting project through.
Heavily involved were two members of the golf club, Jack Tait and Stewart McGregor. Both had just recently retired and they volunteered to oversee the work as they had a the time to be at the course every day. In 1992, Jack had just retired as manager of the Royal Bank in the town, and a quarter-century on, he reflects on that exciting time in the club’s history.
Jack said: “The estimate for all the work was £137,000 and we finished only some £2300 over. Very good considering all the work involved.
“All the course work, including a new shed cost £118,429. Not included was the new car park at £16,360 and various fees of £4516. “Work started in mid-August 1992, but before that, the committee raised £79,750 through and R&A loan of £16,000 paid over 10 years plus a grant of £4000. There was also a TCB loan of £15,000 repaid over 10 years plus £34,250 from the Scottish Tourist Board, being a percentage of the total cost. The balance was made up by a levy of £10,500 plus £59,555 from club funds.
“I took over as treasurer from Stewart McGregor in February 1992 so the cost side was mainly my responsibility. The layout of the new holes was considered by the committee as there was no way a professional course architect could be hired due to the cost involved. For exactly the same reason no course construction firm could be used.
“Luckily Dave Johnstone, who was in charge of the Wigtown District Council department responsible for parks etc, gave us an estimate for construction of the ten greens, 15 tees plus access roads, watering systems etc, and this was accepted by the committee. “However, when it came to the most important decisions it was decided to employ Stewarts, a company who specialise in golf course construction, to lay the new turf on all greens and tees. They also gave helpful advice during the construction.
“We were very fortunate indeed that during the construction all parties involved combined amicably, which also, of course, involved greenkeepers Ivy McCrae and Fraser Montieth, under head greenkeeper Keith Hardie, now sadly deceased. During the construction of the extended course a new tractor, green Toro and tee Toro were purchased plus a gang mover. “Thanks must go to all the members at the time who gave of their own time to assist in many different ways.”