Police are hunting a gang of teenage firebugs who torched part of a Barrhead golf course at the weekend.

The blaze broke out at the fifth hole in Fereneze Golf Club at around 7pm on Saturday - after gorse bushes and foliage were set alight.

Firefighters had to be called out to bring the outbreak under control and stop it spreading.

The incident was one of a number involving large groups of up to 50 youths in the 15 to 16 age group gathering on the course for drinking sessions.

Police were initially called to Fereneze at around 4.30pm by worried golfers, after the gang gathered at the third hole which has a dam.

The teenagers ran off when they saw the officers, but a lifebelt had been stolen and thrown away.

They later returned and set fire to the area round the fifth green.

Police say the youths involved are taking alcohol on to the course in back packs.

Most are from Barrhead but some are travelling from East Kilbride and Glasgow using the rail network.

Inspector Michelle Grant said: “The good weather has brought out youth disorder up at Fereneze Golf Course and we will be taking immediate action.

“We had two separate calls on Saturday from concerned members of the public.

“The second one came after an area next to the fifth hole was set on fire.

“We don’t want this to start becoming the norm.”

Inspector Grant plans to step up patrols at the golf course over the next few weeks.

Officers on horseback may also be brought in to deter the disorder.

There are additional plans to link up with British Transport Police to target the youths as they travel by train.

Inspector Grant added: “We want to nip this in the bud and would appeal to parents and carers to make sure they know where their children are.

“We want young people to enjoy their night safely and not to get involved in acts of criminality or anti-social behaviour.

“It is all about making Barrhead a safer place.”

Last year, we reported on how parts of Fereneze Golf Club were repeatedly being set on fire by teenagers.

In one incident, a wooden bench on one of the fairways was badly damaged.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “We were alerted at 6.51pm on Saturday, March 19 to reports of a grass fire on Fereneze Avenue.

“Operations Control mobilised one appliance to the scene to extinguish the fire and make the area safe. There were no reported casualties.”