THINK of the word ‘Eureka’ in relation to The R&A and you may struggle to envisage the top brass of golf's governing body suddenly louping from a bath tub with excitable haste and scurrying about the Bruce Embankment in the scuddy.

When it comes to developing the game, however, there is plenty of, well, naked ambition. Take the initiative at Lethamhill in the northeast of Glasgow, for instance.

As has been well-documented over the past few months, the old public course plonked between the M8 and the M80 is in the throes of a major renovation with The R&A ploughing on with its bold vision for a multi-faceted golf community hub which they hope will act as a new pathway into the game. Actions do speak louder than words.

“In 2016, The R&A had a kind of Eureka moment,” reflected Jenny Brown, The R&A’s director of business operations. “That was a turning point when we really defined our purpose. We had talked a lot about making golf appealing and inclusive but, at some point, you have to walk the walk. Lethamhill is probably the physical manifestation of our plan for the next 10 years.”

The R&A bought the Lethamhill site from the Glasgow cooncil for £200,000, which is about the same price you’d pay for a hotel room during the COP26 summit, while some £10m is expected to be pumped into the come-all-ye project.

From going on nature trails to exploring the wetlands around Hogganfield Loch – it sounds just like a normal wayward round really – the wide-ranging development is about more than just thwacking golf balls.

“It’s about bringing golf back to the people,” said Brown of this broad church. “Golf lost its way with becoming elitist. My own welcome to golf, for instance, was turning up and being told my shorts were too short. That’s an example of golf getting in its own way.

“We have access to 90,000 kids through the Active Schools network and we have a fantastic local community group in the St Paul’s Youth Forum who are going to integrate with the site from the start. Community engagement is key.

“I’d hope in two to three years we will have a flourishing community vibe going on, with golf thriving, kids in local schools being delivered education programmes that involve nature as well as golf and people playing all formats of the game. We would like to work with local clubs, too, to encourage people to make the step to formal clubs and membership if they desire. It’s about building the whole golfing ecosystem.”

It's an admirable vision and, as those in golf are well aware, there remain areas for potential growth in the game which are considerable. “The main audience we are targeting is the active family, those families with kids who would be likely to play some kind of sport,” said Brown. “That’s 70 per cent of our target market. The other 30 per cent is time starved golfers or lapsed golfers. We are trying to look at all the barriers that are currently there and align this facility with The R&A’s purpose to make golf more accessible, appealing and inclusive. We need to engage the wider audience to make the game more sustainable.”

In some golf environments down the years, children would be rarely seen and certainly not heard. Getting the input of the young ‘uns remains a vital cog in the Lethamhill production process. “We are asking them what short forms of golf they’d like to see and what brands and partners they’d like to see us bring in,” noted Brown. “Instead of a team of adults saying ‘this is what we will design for kids’ we are getting the kids to design it as they will do a better job than we would.”

In terms of facilities, innovations and ideas, Lethamhill will be something of a trailblazing project and hopefully more will follow. “We’d love to have more of these,” added Brown. “We hope this would be a blueprint for a new type of golf facility. Lethamhill will include everything. If we replicate it elsewhere it will depend on where we do it and what that audience wants and then we can tailor it to those needs. But Lethamhill will have everything thrown at it.”

Almost a century after greats like Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen played exhibition matches here in 1923, The R&A’s Eureka moment is putting Lethamhill back in the spotlight.

*For more on Lethamhill, click on this link for Golf Business Quarterly Magazine