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90-year-old golfer refused Nairn Golf Club discount for a few holes a year – after more than 20 years' membership


By Alasdair Fraser

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Donald Davidson. Picture: James MacKenzie
Donald Davidson. Picture: James MacKenzie

AFTER almost 25 years of membership, it looked like a straightforward ‘gimme’ for Donald Davidson.

But the 90-year-old was left deep in the rough after asking for a discount on the £460 annual fee for playing Nairn Golf Club’s nine-hole Cameron course.

After many decades of active life, the retired businessman and former BBC orchestra clarinetist lost some of the spring in his step last year after a painful fall.

These days he can only indulge in his great love every now and again, playing just a few holes at a time in warmer months.

But the Inverness-born widower, who stays at Nairn’s Queen Street, still enjoys the social side with pals over coffee in the clubhouse.

Before his tumble, Mr Davidson was making full use of his membership, but felt the fee had grown too steep for his limited visits.

The 1300-member links course, created in 1887 and redesigned by the legendary Old Tom Morris, is renowned the world over, hosting Hollywood stars and many of golf’s biggest names.

According to Mr Davidson, though, he received no red carpet treatment, merely a curt ‘no’ to his request.

Nairn Golf Club, where Donald Davidson's plea for a concession was rejected. Picture: James MacKenzie
Nairn Golf Club, where Donald Davidson's plea for a concession was rejected. Picture: James MacKenzie

“I’ve been a member for over 20 years, more like 25, while my late wife Margaret was too,” the pensioner said. “I’ve got trouble with my legs and can’t walk all that well, so I only play a couple of holes now and again.

“Last year, I was out every day in the summer but then my legs went and I collapsed in the street.

“When I went to the clubhouse to ask if there could be some sort of concession, given that I was over 90, they just bluntly refused. To be asked to pay that sort of money, after all those years, just isn’t on.

“I’m disappointed a club of their standing would show such disregard for it’s older members. I just resigned on the spot.

“I have a friend in Inverness Golf Club who is over 80 and he gets honorary membership because he has been there for so long. There can’t be many of us over 90. I doubt a concession would cause them much financial difficulty.”

Mr Davidson, who worked in Africa for many years, managing the Niger Biscuit Company before setting up a family nursing home in Nairn, has no plans to join a rival club.

But Nairn Golf Club CEO Colin Sinclair defended his club's stance and insisted officials had dealt with Mr Davidson's approach courteously.

"Mr Davidson raised a query with Nairn Golf Club in December about whether he could get a reduced rate for the nine-hole Cameron course due to his age," Mr Sinclair said.

"His query was initially dealt with by our membership secretary and then by our club convener, where the matter was discussed at a committee meeting.

"This process took a few weeks, due to the frequency of the meetings. Mr Davidson’s request was dealt with professionally and was given consideration by the committee. At no point was he dealt with ‘bluntly’ by any member of staff or committee member.

"It is not club policy to offer reduced rates on any category of membership as these are agreed by the members of the club at the annual general meeting in December.

"This was explained to Mr Davidson and he was offered the alternative of taking up a non-playing membership which would still allow him full access to the club but for the fee of £245 giving him a reduction of £215. Mr Davidson declined this option."

Donald Davidson, beside an old photo of his younger self lifting the Northern Nigeria Open trophy in 1978. Picture: James MacKenzie
Donald Davidson, beside an old photo of his younger self lifting the Northern Nigeria Open trophy in 1978. Picture: James MacKenzie

The elderly golfer said he was aware of the standard non-playing membership fee, but felt it was still too high given that he would have to pay £20 per round on top of that fee, or £5 if signed in by an existing Nairn Golf Club member.

"What they are offering is social membership, but I don't want that," Mr Davidson said. "If I played it three or four times a year, I would still be getting a very bad deal for the limited time I play.

"I just don't understand why they can't offer some kind of discount."

Veteran golfer Donald Davidson won the Northern Nigeria Open in 1978. Picture: James MacKenzie
Veteran golfer Donald Davidson won the Northern Nigeria Open in 1978. Picture: James MacKenzie


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