Edinburgh’s golf clubs are under attack from balaclava-wearing motorbike riding youths that leave a trail of destruction in their wake while also threatening golfers that try to challenge them.
Greens keepers at Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club posted pictures on Tuesday of the damage to their course in the latest raid.
In the images shared with Edinburgh Live, scars can be seen in the green of one of their holes which had been caused by “an idiotic group on trail motorbikes at around 6.30pm in the evening.”
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On this issue, Niall Watson, the club manager said: “‘On Tuesday 26th April we had a few our members who were on the golf course when they were confronted by a group in balaclavas on electric motorbikes. They were far from just vandals – they were actively threatening and intimidating members right across the course.
“On occasions they attempted to take clubs out of bags which understandably scared those who had to experience this. Unfortunately for identification purposes they were all wearing balaclavas or face masks.
“As well as the aggressive nature of these individuals, the damage they can produce with motorbikes on greens & tees can cost golf clubs tens of thousands of pounds.
“There are hundreds of man hours and a huge amount of money put into producing quality playing surfaces for golfers. The financial implications to golf clubs can be massive.
“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our members, guests and staff, so to have groups like this actively going out to intimidate and damage the golf course is deeply worrying. Golf should be a relaxing outdoor sport which can provide people with an opportunity to get away from the stresses of everyday life and not faced by scenarios like this.”
But the issue has also been impacting council courses that are run by Edinburgh Leisure in the North of the capital.
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Both Silverknowes and Carrick Knowe courses have been targeted by bike-riding gangs.
On one occasion a video was captured by a frustrated golfer of a teen racing across the course and churning up the fairways at Silverknowes.
On another, a golfer was threatened by a man in his early twenties after he challenged him on his damaging behaviour.
However, the motorist scampered off when the golfer began marching towards them.
Keen Edinburgh golfer, Dougie Arbuckle, said: “I saw a couple of greens destroyed just the weekend before there on Carrick Knowe, especially the 11th hole.
“It was scarred by multiple motorbike tracks that had ripped up the turf.
“As I approached the 4th green a man drove up the small incline on an electric bike and into the middle of it.
“He was wearing a blue tracksuit with his face covered, and a baseball cap, probably early 20s.
“He looked at me for a second or two and then did two circles, skidding on the green. I was pretty gobsmacked to be fair and shouted at him, asking what he thought he was doing.
“He just replied ‘F*****g come on, then!’, which was odd as he immediately turned and drove down to the 2nd tee.
“There were four older blokes at it about to play, and he just shouted something unintelligible and pulled a wheelie the whole way down the fairway.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone – a better golfer than me, obviously – lines him up with a Titleist and tries to take him out.
“Hopefully they film it.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson confirmed at least one incident has been reported to the force.
They said: “Officers have received reports of vandalism on Craighill Gardens, Edinburgh, on the evening of Tuesday, 26 April, 2022.
“Inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances.”
And bosses at Edinburgh Leisure, which runs some of the courses targeted, confirmed its staff are working with police.
A spokesperson added: “Over the last couple of weeks, a small group of teenagers have been riding their motorbikes or scrambling bikes on the old football fields, next to Carrick Knowe golf course, occasionally coming on to our car park and accessing the beach area from our golf course.
“They’ve caused very minimal disruption or damage. We have obviously kept the police informed, as have the local residents.”