When Greg Coffey, 41 and worth nearly half a billion pounds, bought the Ardfin Estate on Jura he closed the popular Jura House Walled Garden and sealed off the entrance by closing the gap in the wall. Later the welcome sign ended up on a fire at bonfire night. Many regular visitors of the island were left disappointed and some were downright angry about the closure. That’s all logical since it was a we gem and I myself have visited, and enjoyed the garden on many occasions. I’ve heard from various source on and off the island that the situation with the garden will not change in the foreseeable future, it will remain closed. Fortunately the island has so much more to offer for it’s visitors and something will be added soon but that’s unfortunately not something for the tourists to enjoy. In August the word came out that Mr. Greg Coffey will build himself a 18 hole Golf Course not far from Jura House Garden, in the south of the island next to the Sound of Islay, and the former Ardfin farm buildings will be included in the project.
The decision for the Golf Course on Jura comes less than a year after the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) announced that Scotland already has too many golf courses and any more could put too much pressure on existing facilities. A spokesman said: “The reality is that in the past 20 years there has been almost a 20 per cent growth in golf courses throughout Scotland. Yet, after the impact of the economic downturn, there are no more people playing than there were before this growth in facilities.” Earlier this summer the SGU also revealed that 89 per cent of Scottish clubs are actively seeking new members and half have not made a profit in the last 12 months.
Despite this negative advise of the SGU the Golf Course will be built by the Australian architect Bob Harrison who said: “the site is the most beautiful I have ever seen. Nothing I’ve seen anywhere in the world competes with the sheer beauty of the Jura site. I love Scotland in general and, by a pleasant coincidence, had been a devoted fan of the Machrie course on nearby Islay for many years. Jura has become my favourite place on earth.”
Harrison says his holes are designed to cause minimal disturbance to the coastal landscape. “We aim to preserve all the existing burns that cross the fields, and the large areas of sensitive wilderness, such as wetlands, even where they lie within the playing areas of individual golf holes,” he added. The project is believed to have the support of the vast majority of Jura residents. Developers are in the middle of a three month consultation period, and hope to win planning consent from the Argyll and Bute district council later in the year.
The closure of Jura House Gardens was perhaps not the most popular thing Mr Coffey could do, although it seems that the locals were not too bothered about it, it’s mainly the tourists who are disappointed. Building a Golf Course on the island will hopefully put some “big money” in the fragile island’s community and in the long term it will hopefully provide some very welcoming jobs. I’ve heard that the Golf Course won’t be all that private, it will be opened to residents from time to time.