Dream golf club hopes rough time is past: A buyer has been lined up for the Loch Lomond golfing project, once planned as Europe's most expensive course

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The Independent Online
IT WAS to have cost pounds 52m, have a 100-bed luxury hotel, marina and aristocratic club house, and it was to have been the most expensive golf course to play in Europe with exclusive corporate memberships of pounds 25,000 each.

This week, almost three years after the project was put into the hands of receivers after the collapse of the initial backers, Loch Lomond Golf Club on the 'bonnie banks' is likely to be sold and will open in the summer to golf's most feared players - the public.

Only the finishing touches are still to be put to the High Road course - which is all that remains of the dream. Set among the forests, burns and inlets of Sir Ivar Colquhoun's estate, work on the course has continued, despite the collapse of Stirling Investments in November 1990.

The ambitious project was conceived before the recession took effect. The Court of Session put the venture into the hands of administrators from Coopers & Lybrand when Stirling Investments folded. The Bank of Scotland was the principal creditor.

The completion of the Loch Lomond course has remained faithful to the layout designed by Tom Weiskopf, the American golfer who won the 1973 Open at Royal Troon, and his partner, Jay Moorish.

When Weiskopf was given the contract in 1989 he said: 'This is the most beautiful site you will ever see. People rave about Augusta National in the United States. This is every bit as beautiful.' Although working under financial uncertainty, Weiskopf and the builders, Nagolfco, have constructed a stunning course that he said 'will be the mark I leave in golf history'.

This week, the Gleneagles Hotel will open the first golf course in Scotland to be designed by an American. The Monarch course, alongside the Kings and Queens, will enhance Gleneagles' reputation in the Royal and Ancient game. Loch Lomond will have no such razzmatazz. 'Even though we will be pay-as-you-play, we won't be opening our doors to anyone,' said Robin Parr, the man in charge of overseeing the opening of Loch Lomond. 'We are anxious to have a reputation of quality.'

For a per round fee of between pounds 40 and pounds 60, the public will have access to 180 acres of Scottish lochside forests, burns, marshes, and views across Loch Lomond. The identity of the new owners is still being kept secret.

(Photograph omitted)