THE original home course of Ryder Cup legend Sam Torrance is set to undergo radical changes, the News can reveal.

Proposals have been made to re-design the 17th green and move the 18th tee at the historic Routenburn Golf Course - sparking a flood of complaints.

Protestors say the historic 18 holes, which are over 100 years old with a classic much-loved design, will be irrevocably altered by the plan.

Operators KA Leisure say the move is to protect people's safety after adjacent houses were said to be struck by stray golf balls.

Routenburn is famous as the home club of the Torrance family; the place where Sam learned to play the game under the expert tuition of his father Bob.

Current club champion Rory Acheson told the News he is against the proposals.

He said: "It is a fantastic course and I feel this decision would undermine many years of history. Nobody expected this and its too much. Our club has been here since 1914, why should it change now?

"The 17th green would be shortened massively - I don't think the situation merits an overhaul like this - it is an over-reaction."

Largs historian Archie Burleigh is another who is determined to fight the move.

He said: "The course was established in 1914 and is of a James Braid design after being bought for the residents and visitors by Largs Town Council.

"There have been very few incidences, if any, of stray golf balls going down into adjacent properties from the 17th and 18th fairways.

"There is netting at the 17th green and 18th tee but was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Only very recently has it been fixed with new plastic netting.

"These changes will not solve the problem and the expense would be better diverted to making improvements to the greens, tees and pathways on the rest of the course.

"I feel sure my proposal will be much more effective than wantonly destroying a part of Largs history and the memory of one of the greatest course designers Scotland has produced."

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall also feels the overhauls is a step too far.

He said: "I think Archie has a good point and that just some reinforcing of the fencing is required.

"I think this is an overreaction from KA Leisure. Spend the money reinforcing the fence instead of altering the layout of the golf course - and given that the organisation is £2m in the red, I think they should look at all options."

Cllr Timothy Billings, who sits on the KA Leisure board, however argued the changes are needed.

He told the News: "The redesign of the course is required because the adjacent houses have an issue with stray golf balls ending up in their gardens and hitting their houses. This is in spite of the high netting that was put up.

"KA Leisure wants to ensure that the residents are not affected so it has been decided to redesign this part of the golf course. We did look at all the options and took advice from golf course designers.

"After weighing up all the options, the redesign was considered the most effective option."

A KA Leisure spokesperson said: "Following receipt of several communications from our neighbours in relation to stray golf balls causing damage to adjacent properties, as well as several near occurrences of residents being struck by golf balls, KA Leisure engaged with a specialist golf course architect to complete a safety analysis of the 17th and 18th holes at Routenburn.

"The analysis considered the likelihood of golf balls entering adjacent properties and possible risk reduction measures. The installation of higher and increased fencing was dismissed on grounds of cost as its unsustainable due to the exposed site. The analysis has identified that the most viable solution to reduce the risk is to relocate the green at the 17th and slightly shorten the hole on the 18th by moving the tee forward.

"Therefore the amendments to the 17th and 18th holes will take place during the winter months and information will be provided to all of our season ticket holders outlining the changes. A member of the KA Leisure Management Team has met with a representative of Routenburn Golf Club to discuss how the changes will impact their members."