GOLFERS are drinking before they take to courses to avoid being caught out by the new drink-drive limits, it has been claimed.

Dunbar Golf Club applied for the right to serve alcohol from 10am in the morning after saying a new social culture of pre-golf drinking was being seen at its course.

The club said while overseas visitors enjoyed the opportunity to have a "dram" before taking to the course, the new drink driving limit had also affected the way people approached the game.

James Hughes, from the club said: "The reduction in the drink drive limit has seen a large drop in bar turnover post golf and a demand for social get together pre golf is emerging."

The club applied to extend its licence to cater for visitors who, it said, enjoyed a drink before going out to play a round of golf.

It appealed to East Lothian Licensing Board for the early start, pointing out several golf clubs in the county already have the additional licensing hours.

The board approved the request to start serving alcohol at 1oam after being told seven other clubs already do so and one is allowed to start selling alcohol at 9am.

Council leader and board member Willie Innes said: "We have allowed other clubs to do this and have never had any concerns or any reason to object to the licences."

And fellow board member Councillor Donald Grant added: "I am quite comfortable with the 10am start for the golf club given their location. They are not on the high street."

Mr Hughes had told the board its foreign visitors were keen to have an early "nip".

He said: "Dunbar Golf Club is a championship club attracting many visitors from oversea and is part of the Golf Coast tour.

"Many of these tourists enjoy a dram before the play and whilst I understand it is outwith board policy to allow licensing before 11am I understand that other golf clubs in the area have been given permission."