The bar manager at Haddington Golf Club reported that his alcohol sales have dropped 70 percent, and that he can now “sometimes go a day without serving any,” after new rules took effect December 5 that set limits for men to less than a pint and for women to a small glass of wine.
Golf clubs in Scotland are facing a new threat to their future after seeing alcohol sales plunge by as much as 70 percent following the introduction of a tough new “drink-drive” law, the Edinburgh Evening News reported.
Since the strict new limit came into effect on December 5, clubs across the region have seen bar takings, which account for a significant portion of many clubs’ income and often mean the difference between profit and loss, go through the floor, the Evening News reported. Some clubs have taken in hundreds of (British) pounds less in bar revenues than they would have expected over the three weeks leading up to the holidays, as players now head straight off after a round of golf, or order a pot of tea at a fraction of the cost of a round of alcoholic drinks.
Golfers fear the loss of income will send more clubs over the edge, following the closure of Lothianburn Golf Club in 2013 and Torphin Hill in 2014; both clubs cited dwindling memberships as the reasons for their closings, the Evening News reported.
Scotland’s new rules, which are tougher than those in place for the rest of the U.K., now limit men to less than a pint and women to one small glass of wine before they get behind the wheel. Anyone caught drink-driving in Scotland now faces a driving ban of at least a year and up to six months in jail.
“[Drink-driving] is putting lives at risk and it must stop,” a Scottish government spokeswoman said. “Our advice is simple, the best approach is to have no alcohol at all. Alcohol at any level will affect your ability to drive.”
Duncan Hay, Bar Manager at Haddington Golf Club, told the Evening News that he had seen a drop in alcohol sales of around 70 percent at his club, as players now ditch their post-round pints. “I can go a day without serving any alcohol,” he added. “People know police are out patrolling, and are being extra-careful.”
Several other clubs reported a big fall in bar takings in December, although some believed the cold weather had also had an impact, alongside the drink-drive laws.
“This [law] is certainly a threat to the existence of the clubs,” Allan Shaw, President of the Lothian Golf Association, told the Evening News. “They are struggling for membership, and this is yet another challenge.”
Pubs not affiliated with golf courses have also been affected by the new law, the Evening News reported, with some seeing the tea-time custom of workers stopping off for a pint on their way home drying up.
Publicans in Scotland fear the law will prove an even bigger blow to their industry than the smoking ban, hitting rural clubs and pubs particularly hard. “This time last year we were definitely busier,” said Graham Smith, Supervisor at the Goblin Ha’ Hotel in Gifford. “I would say there has been a 30 percent drop.
“We are worried about it,” Smith added. “You have got to be; this is our livelihood. This is a small village, and a lot of our trade comes from outside.”
Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said the law change would lead to a “complete change to drinking habits” and would be “bigger than the smoking ban.”
“Rural pubs are especially at risk, because people travel to them,” Waterson said. “This definitely will be a difficult situation for many. It’s having a marked effect.
“It stops people having a glass of wine with a meal or a pint with a meal,” he added. “People are not taking the chance. It’s a game-changer.
“This is a very strict ban by anyone’s standards,” Waterson said. “We have lost three pubs a week since the smoking ban and this, for many, is worse.”