Honesty box lives!

Despite a crime culture that seems to affect our daily lives, the honesty box is still a feature at remote courses where you're asked to play now, pay later.

Bob Warters's picture
Tue, 18 Oct 2005
Honesty box lives!

Spectacular Cullen

With starters’ huts, CCTV cameras and patrolling marshals in buggies, not much chance these days for a visitor to sneak in a round of golf without paying.

So it’s surprising that the retention of the ‘honesty box’ at some Scottish courses – featured in the latest Visit Scotland promotion - is still in place. Such a trusting nation, the Scots.

I first came across play now pay later option at the 9-hole Blairmore and Strone course, sandwiched on a headland between Holy Loch and Loch Long when I crossed the Firth of Clyde on the Gourock Ferry.

A sign beside the little clubhouse, which resembled a 19th century cricket pavilion, merely said ‘Please leave the £2 green fee in the box provided. Thankyou.’

Ballindalloch – a Donald Steel design

This was over 30 years ago, when I was new to the game and a sharp uphill first and an almost sheer drop of the final hole looked a terrifying prospect. I have since discovered it was one of the first designs by James Braid in 1896. I wonder if any fellow Golfmagic members have played it and if the same pay and play facility is still provided.

The honesty box for golfers is apparently still a well –used option around Scotland and especially in the Aberdeen and Grampian region which is currently promoting its Golf, Castles and Whisky trail along with some discounted winter green fees.

It’s a charming feature of golf in the area merely being asked to put your money in the box and play to your hearts content when the clubhouse is closed.

Here are some of the courses recommended:

Alford (019755 62178) is set in parkland in scenic Aberdeenshire and moves to winter greens from November, when fees are halved. A weekday round costs £10 (£12.50 at weekends). Clubhouse opens every day except Tuesday and Thursday (honesty boxes) but full catering available Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Lunch and snacks Monday and Wednesday.

Alford – green fees half price in winter

Aboyne Loch (013398 86444) is a challenging 9-holer on Royal Deeside, that never transfers to winter greens and fees are reduced by 20%. Lodge on the Loch restaurant and clubhouse open every day.

Ballindalloch Castle (01807 500305) is an 18-hole Donald Steel design on the banks of the River Avon, with magnificent views of the surrounding hills in the heart of Malt Whisky country. Only stipulation is starting is delayed until after 10 am when frost is on the ground with fees of £10 (£5 for juniors). Honesty box when clubhouse is closed.

Cullen (01542 840685) is an 18-hole links making the most of nature’s inspirational landscape of beach, sea stacks and escarpments. Winter membership is just £40 or play a round for £8 on winter greens and pay later to greens staff or the honesty boxwhen the bar is closed on Tuesdays. Clubs and trolleys can be hired.

Aboyne Loch – challenging 9-holer

Peterculter (01224 735245) has 18 holes set on beautiful Royal Deeside with 16 temporary greens during November to March, but only if it’s frosty. Advisable to phone the pro for a tee-time (01224 734994).

Tarland's (013398 81000) clubhouse is closed from November to March, use the honesty box for your £5 green fee on this 9-holer on Royal Deeside.

For more information on the 70 courses throughout Aberdeen & Grampian Highlands visit www.golf-grampian.com, You can also order a free copy of the Official Guide to Golf in Aberdeen and Grampian Highlands by calling 0845 22 55 121.

*The Senior British Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management, will return to The Westin Turnberry Resort in Scotland, from July 27-30, 2006.