A FORMER City of London banker has returned to his native Scotland to set up a crazy golf venture with a difference.

Craig Neilson and partner Kasia Majkut are investing £250,000 in a nine-hole crazy golf course with bar and street food stalls in a former newspaper building in Kinning Park, Glasgow.

Unlike traditional ventures of its type, which tend to attract a family audience, FORE Play Crazy Golf is pitched squarely at the adult market, and will aim to capitalise on the popularity of similar ventures in cities such as London, Manchester and Liverpool.

The venue, which will also be marketed as a “destination” for Christmas party nights, will open to its doors to the public on September 22.

The move marks a return to Scotland and Glasgow in particular for Mr Neilson, who was brought up in Kilmarnock and moved to the city in his late teens, before studying at the University of Stirling.

He also began his banking career in Glasgow with Morgan Stanley, before work took him to London. Mr Neilson, who spent the past five years working in the City for Goldman Sachs, said the idea for FORE Play had been germinating in his mind for some time.

Asked why he had left a career in banking to commit to the venture, Mr Neilson said: “This was one of these things that was just niggling away at the back of your mind, about wanting to start a business and go out on your own and start a business.

“Both Kasia and I just really wanted to try and do something together. And we are at a good stage in our lives where we can take the risks just now."

The entrepreneurs are currently overseeing the refurbishment of the Kinning Park building ahead of the launch. Mr Neilson said they are aiming to retain as much of the building’s industrial heritage in its new incarnation throughout the project, including its exposed beams and original fire escape and other public information signs.

The course itself was designed by Tristan Cochrane, the Scottish artist who created the central staircase in the Tait Britain Gallery in London.

Mr Neilson hopes the arrival of FORE Play is timely in light of broader efforts to regenerate the Kinning Park and nearby riverside areas.

The couple have signed a short-term lease on the 6,000 square foot building, allowing them to gauge consumer interest in the venue.

But he did not rule out staying longer, revealing that he would like to roll the concept out to the likes of Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Mr Neilson said: “The idea itself is something that works really well across the rest of the UK. There are none in Scotland yet, and we see the opportunity to bring these experience-based activities up to Glasgow.

“It is just the perfect city for it, because they tend to take to these sort of things on really – anything that’s quite funky, quite innovative, quite progressive.”

Despite its focus on crazy golf, Mr Neilson said he is equally keen for consumers to visit for the food and drink the venue will offer. He said he has been amazed by the explosion of street food culture in the city since he last worked in Glasgow seven years ago, which FORE Play will seek to reflect. So far it has signed up one street food vendor, Prague Shack, which offers Czech style cuisine with a Scottish twist. Two further vendors will be in place before opening.

Mr Neilson said the food on offer will have a strong focus on locally-sourced food, with that approach extended to the bar, which will reflect the recent explosion in Scottish gin and now rum. The bar will be run by the venue owners themselves, with Mr Neilson making use of the connections he built up in that sector before he moved into banking.

He said: “There is a huge variety on our doorstep – it would seem crazy not to take advantage of it.”

Mr Neilson envisages employing 10 staff directly, excluding those working on the street food side.

He said a round of golf will be priced at £8.50, adding that its website will offer food and golf packages when it is up and running.

Mr Neilson added: “Glasgow was really screaming out for this, so here we are.”