Greg Coffey, the brilliant young Aussie financier who now owns the Ardfin estate on the Isle of Jura, may have seen his plans for a private but spectacular 18 hole golf course on the estate hit a bit of a stooshie over unfounded claims that Scottish Natural Heritage were being obstructive – but he seems to have won over local opinion.
The first card in his favo0ur is that a golf course, being low rise, does not visually obstruct the landscape. Then the majestic and largely bare rock of the island is unlikely to offer problems with Tree Protection Orders.
The other and major magnet in the project is job creation. In an island with a population smaller than many remote villages and with its main centre, Craighouse, just such a place – if redolent of timeless charm, jobs could not matter more.
The planned course is set to create four jobs. That is not to be sneezed at.
While, at first glance, the plan to make it an entirely private course for the entertainment of Mr Coffey and his guests may seem a limited opportunity for economic development on the island, it is something of a Tardis. There is more opportunity behind it than is immediately apparent.
First up, if Mr Coffey is going to invest as strongly as this in his estate, it has every chance of seeing more of his own presence and that of his guests, who are likely to be high net worth individuals. This itself will generate more economic activity on Jura.
There is also much to be said for having a permanent connection with someone of real ambition, ideas, contacts and the ability to generate capital. Someone with Greg Coffey’s track record of fired success is not going to be on Jura with his mind in neutral, nor will his visiting friends, as they step onto the island, close their eyes to any opportunity that may suggest itself.
If the community and the council are supportive of this inherent ambition, much may come of it.
And some way down the road, if and when Mr Coffey’s has exhausted the potential of his Jura project and the call of the warmth and the surf of his homeland increases, the estate’s possession of a private and world class 18 hole golf course would be a major card in any later sale and in any consequent dcvelopment.
In the meantime, Mr Coffey is preeminently a businessman, Neither he nor his estate management is going to be slow in making the estate a viable and growing business.
Th Jura golf course project is not only a signal of Greg Coffey’s serious intentions for his estate but it is a sort of promissory note for Jura’s future.
2013 is starting well for this island.