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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Old Tom claim denied by crofters
Crofters are concerned about the machair on which livestock graze
Crofters opposing the extension of an island golf course have disputed claims it was designed by a golfing legend.

Proposals have been drawn up to restore the links at Askernish, South Uist, to an original design by Old Tom Morris.

However, crofters say there is no evidence that the four times Open champion had a hand in the course.

Landlord Storas Uibhist said there was "ample evidence" to back the claims, including map of the course on Uist from 1922 available to the public.

The majority of shareholders in the land have accused Storas Uibhist, and Askernish Golf Club of breaching crofting laws.

There was nothing that they didn't talk about, but they never mentioned Old Tom Morris at all
Angus Johnstone

They also said the plans to refurbish the course will destroy areas of the machair, grassland on which they graze livestock.

Crofter Angus Johnstone said it was "impossible" for Old Tom Morris to have designed the course.

He said: "If it was true the generation before us would surely talk about it.

"There was nothing that they didn't talk about, but they never mentioned Old Tom Morris at all."

Storas Uibhist has denied claims that it was in breach of crofting law by developing a golf course.

Chairman, Angus MacMillan, said that when the Askernish was broken up into crofts the estate reserved the right to have a golf course on the land.

It was this "reserved right" that now allowed Storas Uibhist to develop the area.

Greatest designer

Last year, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) granted planning permission for the course extension.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) had expressed concerns for wildlife but these were thought to have been allayed.

Following a visit to Askernish by experts last December, a plan was devised to restore the nine-hole links course to 18 holes.

Old Tom won The Open championship four times - a feat matched by his son young Tom Morris.

He is also regarded as possibly the greatest course designer - helping to design about 60 golf courses worldwide.

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20 Mar 06 |  Scotland
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11 Jul 05 |  Scotland

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