History plays its part in tempting visitors

Willie Mackay, captain of Royal Dornoch Golf Club (left) presents the “John Sutherland Quaich” to Ali Mackay, captain of Wick Golf Club. Also pictured is Wick historian Roy Mackenzie.

GOLF clubs across the Highlands are well aware that visitors can enjoy the scenery and history as much as their rounds.

The sport has been woven into the fabric of life in the region for centuries.

Highlanders who learned the rudiments of the game on the coastal links land played an integral role in taking the golfing gospel to the USA and around the world.

While others, such as legendary golf course architect Donald Ross of Pinehurst fame, have enjoyed an enduring profile, one of the key players in the growth of golf across the Highlands has tended to be overlooked.

That has prompted Royal Dornoch Golf Club to gift the “John Sutherland Memorial Quaich” to Wick Golf Club, which enjoys the status of being the oldest in the Highlands.

The trophy, presented by captain Willie Mackay, commemorates the legendary Royal Dornoch secretary, who served the club for nearly 60 years.

The Sutherland Golf Society at Dornoch Links was created seven years after Wick Golf Club’s original nine-hole lay-out.

In presenting the memorial Quaich, Mr Mackay noted: “In 1906, John travelled north and spent two days laying out this classic, very natural traditional Scottish links golf course at Reiss.”

Sutherland, who also served as town clerk, was also responsible for inviting Tom Morris to Dornoch to enhance the links; he taught Donald Ross to play the game; and he was integral in putting the town on the Edwardian era tourist map.

Wick Golf Club historian Roy Mackenzie’s research has uncovered ties between the two clubs dating back to the 1880s.

Mr Mackenzie highlighted the influential role of the Dornoch secretary in marketing and developing golf in the north of Scotland. He penned various Press articles extolling the virtues of golf at Wick.

When Lady Louisa Duff Dunbar of Ackergill and Hempriggs Estate offered to fund the extension to 18 holes in 1906, Sutherland was commissioned to redesign the course.

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