Royal Dornoch Golf Club, the renowned Championship club in the Scottish Highlands, is working closely with the local community to create a year of celebration in 2016.
Coordinated by Royal Dornoch Golf Club, “400 years of golf at Dornoch” is a club and community year long celebration of golf. The 400 years celebration will allow golfers, the community and its visitors to enjoy many events, activities and celebrations in the town.
The club has been looking at the role golf and sport has played within Dornoch and the wider area. The funding of a post graduate research position, filled by Wade Cormack in 2013, was one of the first steps taken to learn more about how golf has shaped the modern community.
“The first year of my research into golf in and around the Moray Firth has already provided some interesting finds.” comments Wade McCormack, PhD student at UHI. “From the earliest records it is clear that golf was a sport enjoyed by all and it very quickly provided many people in the region with a business opportunity, as well as a new pastime.”
Visitors, locals and golfers will be able to enjoy talks on new discoveries about golf in the area; attend music, drama, art exhibitions at Royal Dornoch Golf Club and throughout the town of Dornoch.
“It is an exciting time for the club and we’re so delighted to be met with such enthusiasm from every quarter of the town, with the school children involved in designing our Royal Dornoch Golf Club tartan and many of the town clubs and groups contributing to the 400 year celebration,” said Neil Hampton, General Manager at Royal Dornoch Golf Club. “The town has really embraced the 400 years and the list of events keeps on growing.”
The 400 years of Golf tees off on the 2nd of January 2016 with the Captain of Royal Dornoch “driving in” using a special hand crafted hickory club and feathery ball.
The summer programme brings town and club together with an exhibition match featuring world renowned professional golfers followed by a celebratory gala dinner. A themed street party will be held at the end of the 103rd Carnegie Shield golf week in August, this will showcase the 400 years of golf played in Dornoch, featuring food, music and costumes over the period. There will be exhibitions and displays throughout the year including contributions from many local groups including the Heritage Society, Flowers & Fairs and The Festival Week.
Reverend Susan Brown, Minister of the 13th Century parish church of Dornoch Cathedral, adds, “Dornoch as a town has been shaped by the twin influences of golf and the Church and the relationship between the two, continues to be a happy and healthy one. The 400 year celebrations in 2016 offer an opportunity for the whole community to be actively involved in celebrating our wonderful culture and heritage and it offers too the chance to continue to foster community spirit.”
The year will be rounded off with visits from the Royal Clubs around the world in September and the Club Captain sinking the final putt on the 18th green to bring the celebrations to a conclusion at the Captain’s weekend in October.
Before any organised playing of golf in Dornoch the town’s links were also used by local people for grazing cattle, drying clothes and practising archery.
Written accounts from 1616 show that a local schoolboy – John, the 13th Earl of Sutherland – spent £10 on bows and arrows, golf clubs and balls.
His guardian, Sir Robert Gordon, gave a famous description of Dornoch links in 1628. It read: “About this town along the sea coast are the fairest and largest links or green fields of any part of Scotland, fitt for archery, golfing, ryding and all other exercises, they doe surpass the fields of Montrose or St Andrews.”
The golf club was formed in 1877 and the first 18-hole course was laid out in 1886 by Old Tom Morris who extended the original nine holes. The famous links were later refined by John Sutherland, the club secretary for nearly 60 years from 1883, and the final layout was arrived at after World War II.
In 1906 King Edward VII, a close friend of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, granted a Royal Charter to the Club.
Royal Dornoch’s championship course was ranked No.6 in the world by Golf Digest 2014. Royal Dornoch Struie Course ranked No.50 in UK & Ireland by Golf Digest 2011.
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Royal Dornoch Golf Club www.royaldornoch.com