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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Children's golf course tees off
Hermitage Family Golf Course
Children play in a bunker at the new Hermitage Family Golf Course
A golf course built for children, said to be the first in the UK, has been officially opened by Sports Minister Patricia Ferguson.

The 12-hole Hermitage Family Golf Course in Edinburgh was built with the aid of a 200,000 lottery award.

It is part of the Scottish Executive's drive to encourage more youngsters to play golf, under the Scottish national golf strategy, clubgolf.

Covering 14 acres of land, the course is also aimed at beginners.

It offers turn-up-and-play access, free club hire and no dress code.

The 12 holes range from 60 to 250 yards and snake around a clubhouse.

Construction began in September 2003 and it cost 600,000 by the time it was complete.

I am convinced that there are many more potential Open Champions and Ryder Cup players out there in Scotland
Julia Bracewell

A third of the money came from national sports funding body sportscotland with the rest from donors including the The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

This is its first full year of operation and in the last two months more than 2,000 people have played a round.

Ms Ferguson said: "Scotland is the home of golf and I hope that our budding Open champions of the future enjoy the new course and take this great opportunity to experience the game.

'Fantastic' course

"This new course will introduce Scotland's young people to the game in a fun and exciting way."

Former Ryder Cup team member and Hermitage patron Andrew Coltart said: "The course is fantastic and it has a tremendous layout.

"The first six holes are relatively wide open, with minimal problems for the children to develop their game.

"Once they know what they are doing they can progress to a further six holes that are a bit more of a test.

"Without a doubt, a child that starts to play golf here could go on to play at the highest levels."

Julia Bracewell OBE, chairwoman of sportscotland, said: "I am convinced that there are many more potential Open Champions and Ryder Cup players out there in Scotland and through clubgolf and facilities like Hermitage, we will make it far easier for them to be discovered and developed."

Hear the reaction of some of the young golfers

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