(742) GRAZING v GOLF ON THE SOUTH UIST MACHAIR
The Times for 16 February 2008 reported proceedings in the sheriff court at Lochmaddy the previous week, in which South Uist crofters failed in their attempt to assert rights to graze on the Askernish machair and accordingly to stop the imminent re-opening of a golf course on the ground designed and laid out in the nineteenth century by Old Tom Morris (for whom see Wikipedia here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Morris,_Sr.), but little played since the 1930s. The basis of the crofters’ claim is an agreement made in 1922 between the then-owners of the grounds and the crofters, under which the right of grazing was granted subject to a right to play golf over the ground too. The crofters argue this does not entail excluding them from the golfing ground altogether. Sheriff Andrew Barry held that the crofters’ application should be addressed to the Scottish Land Court, not the sheriff court; the crofters say that they are prepared to go to the European Court of Human Rights. There are also allegations that the on-going work at the golf course is being sabotaged by locals working under the cover of darkness, including stuffing up some of the holes with what the Times describes as dirt, possibly a bit of a euphemism given that grazing animals lie at the heart of this dispute.