WINTER NEWSLETTER 2020
Front cover and following pages give an
artist’s impression of the new clubhouse
It seems no time since the AGM in August and now into my
second year of Captaincy the business side of the role continues
at considerable pace.
At the AGM in August it was pleasing to get such positive
support for the clubhouse project and since then the Projects
Team have been working extremely hard with Keppie Design our
architects. As I write we are in Stage 4 of the design process which
involves the interior detail of the building. This has thrown up
challenges such as having to incorporate a second fire exit within
the body of the building which involved a design change. I am
pleased to say this has now been resolved.
We have also had fairly prolonged discussions with the Highland
Council and Dornoch Area Community Council to allow us to build on the Common Good Land.
This has involved renegotiation of the Common Good Land Lease with a new annual rent of £25,000
being agreed and to be included in a proposal which now needs to go to a Public Consultation.
Recent new legislation requires a Public Consultation to take place due to “change of use” of the land
and this process is underway now. It is a fairly lengthy process but shouldn’t delay our plans to commence
the build in October 2020.
I hate to mention the Brexit word but this has also thrown up challenges for our Quantity Surveyor as
the price of steel, stone, slate and general building materials are hard to predict. We continue to monitor
the budget closely and hopefully by the time we go out to tender in April/May 2020 markets will become
We had to delay the extension to the bowling green and the widening of the new access road due to
“change of use” until after the Public Consultation however this will happen around September 2020
and will not delay the overall project.
In summary we now have Planning Permission for the access road, bowling green and for the new
clubhouse. Highland Council and the Dornoch Area Community Council have agreed to locate the
new tennis court next to Dornoch Academy. A very appropriate location to encourage sport for the
The Carnegie Shield was a great success, yet again, with competitors praising the condition of the course.
The Championship course in particular has been in fantastic condition all year. I refereed the final
which was played in testing windy conditions and contested by a repeat of last year’s final between Chris
Mailley and Ian Rennie. Chris won at the 21 st hole and again the sportsmanship of golf was evident.
The Carnegie Shield week is always fun meeting
up with so many of our returning friends and
meeting new ones.
As you know the new 7 th hole is now open and as
part of the course winter programmes the final
alterations are now almost complete with new tees
in place and some definition added to the hole.
There was a concern raised at the AGM regarding
some of the detail in the original plan however as
described by our course architect “the design and
construction of golf holes is a combination of
science and art”. Once clearance work commences
some base topography and what the design eye sees
allows for enhancements to improve the design.
The hole will remain a par 4 at 479 yards and we
took the opportunity to include a Blue Tee at 499
yards to accommodate some of the major events.
I am confident once you all have the opportunity
to play the hole you will agree what a magnificent
creation has been achieved. I had the pleasure of
playing it when it opened on a clear and sunny
Autumnal day and the views are breathtaking!
I was invited by the Royal Navy to board HMS
Sutherland at the docks in Invergordon for a tour
of the ship and afternoon tea. Around 60 guests
enjoyed the hospitality and I arranged a four ball
for four of the crew the following day.
The Captain’s weekend was again a great success
and well received by all who attended. The weather
was kind with some good golf being played and
some great Dornoch craic and hospitality. The
dinner on the Saturday night was well attended
with over 80 sitting down to an excellent meal and
more hilarity. The raffle and auction raised healthy
sums, and we received donations for the juniors
on the night. My thanks to those who contributed
For the second year running we changed the
format of the Annual Prizegiving incorporating
cocktails and live music and it was good to see
young and not so young enjoying themselves. Well
done to all the prize winners.
As we move towards the winter season we look
forward to a fresh approach to our social events
and hope more members will attend and enjoy
some fun nights out.
Sadly our Patron the Countess of Sutherland
passed away at her London home just before
Christmas. The Countess had been Club
President from 1963 – 1975 and was invited to
become the first Patron of our club in 1991. My
thoughts and condolences go to her family and
I have to thank all those who make Royal Dornoch
such a wonderful place both to play golf and to
enjoy the social aspect of the club. This can only
be achieved by the dedication of those who work
for us but also those who give up time to direct and
manage the club.
Neil Hampton our General Manager has been a
tremendous support to me during my term of
office and his workload has been increased
considerably with the addition of the clubhouse
project so I thank him, his management team and
staff. Officials, Council of Management and
members have also been very supportive too and I
owe a huge amount of gratitude to all.
I look forward to the year ahead and wish you all
a Happy New Year.
From The General Manager’s Office
The dryness of 2018 gave us some misgivings on
how the courses would fair for 2019 but the expert
work carried out by our team at the end of the
2018 and the beginning of the 2019 seasons
coupled with a bit of help from the man upstairs
and the courses, especially the Championship,
were in wonderful condition for the golfing season.
I had quite a number of comments from members
and visitors saying how amazing the greens were,
and some saying they were the best that they had
ever seen them.
The club continues to grow with member and
visitor numbers reaching new highs, and that is not
to mention the continued growth in the staff
complement, that reached 73 at its peak this
summer. The responsibility for ensuring that the
club is heading in the right direction to satisfy all
these various parties lies with our Council of
Management and my thanks to all of these who
volunteer their time to guide the ship called Royal
Dornoch. Our Captain and Vice Captain, Rob
Murray and Willie MacKay respectively, are mid
way through their term and seem to be very much
enjoying their roles. On the Council of
Management itself we said thank you to John
McMurray, Grant Shannon and Alastair Stoddart
for their time and efforts on the Council, and then
hello to Ian Irwin, Ian Madeley and John
On the staff side of things we have seen a few
coming and going as always and we wish them well
but our senior management team remains as it was
and this has led to better consistency in the
leadership, quality of training and the subsequent
service in all areas of the club.
My thanks to Sue Robb and Brian Sangster for
what they are doing in food and beverage and the
desire for 4 star service, Brad Smith and the team
in the pro shop for the excellent results in 2019,
and as always to Eoin Riddell and the course team
for the superb courses and to Claire Riddell and
her office team for keeping all the bookings and
mountain of paperwork right up to date.
As the team grows in line with the workload we
have been sharing out more of the tasks and so
Gary Dingwall now looks after our golf operations
team and helps Neil Munro with the caddies, while
still keeping and eye on the coaching and club
fitting. Andrew Skinner has been given
responsibility for event management, handicaps
and rules, so he will be in charge on the day of our
open events, as well as our club competitions,
while ensuring that all prizes and handicaps are up
to date after each one. With the new World
Handicap System (WHS) coming into force in
November of this year Andrew has been charged
with learning it inside out so that he will be our
guru when we have the inevitable questions and
queries. I should also mention that club member
Alison Bartlett is our WHS North representative
so will also be well clued up on the system. There
will be some information evenings coming and our
thanks in advance to Alison and Andrew for
helping to educate us.
It is not just our people who have given us lots to
talk about as our desire to build a new clubhouse
continues to gather pace. The past year has seen
the club projects team attend many meetings with
our architects and their fellow design professionals
to progress the many facets of the building, some
that are obvious to the eye and many that will be
hidden from sight. All on the team are very pleased
with the reaction to the external appearance of the
building and hope that the interior look and feel
receives as favourable a response. Planning
Planning permission has been granted as well as
building warrant so the public agencies seem to
approve of what we have designed so the work
continues to provide a new building that will be a
true reflection of our club and what golf in Dornoch
means to us all.
The Greens Convenor has talked about the 7 th
hole in his report and I would just like to add my
personal congratulations to our greens staff on the
work that they had done in giving us a truly
wonderful new hole that maximises the
tremendous views and provides a classic links test
for all golfers. It will be interesting to see if Pier
challenges Foxy to be our best known and talked
New tees for the 8 th hole will be constructed on the
site of the old 7 th green in the coming winter and
will add a new dimension to the tee shot with the
ambition to have more players take on the green
from the top of the hill and thus play the hole in
the way it was originally designed.
I am also very eager to try out our new putting
green. For many years our golfers have been saying
that it is too flat and doesn’t prepare you for the
challenge of the greens on the Championship
Course. Well, there is no doubt that what we have
now reflects many of the contours that we have to
tackle on the course, and in some cases it will be
even harder to manoeuvre your ball close to the
hole! I foresee several summer nights with a group
of golfers, maybe a drink or two in hand, trying to
hole the impossible 6 footer well after the sun has
Throughout all the above mentioned course works
our club and greens staff have been guided by Tom
MacKenzie of the golf course design firm
MacKenzie and Ebert. Tom has a very sympathetic
approach to proposing changes in our courses and
has been very open to comments and suggestions
from all of the people involved at the club. This
has given us confidence that the end results will
enhance what we have and continue to grow the
worldwide reputation of our courses.
This coming year we will be hosting the Mens
Home Internationals which is following on closely
from the Boys event in 2018. This is the start of
three consecutive years of hosting national
Championships with the Senior Amateur
Championship coming in 2021 and the Scottish
Amateur Championship in 2022. Hopefully the
last one will see us view the action from our new
clubhouse. As always these events require lots of
extra help to ensure they run smoothly and
therefore we will be looking for volunteers to
complement the professional staff of the
organising body and the golf club so please step
forward when the appeal comes. Together we can
ensure that all who take part are given the very best
Royal Dornoch Experience and leave with many
It is still the desire of the club to host the Walker
Cup at some point in the future and the successful
hosting of other major events can only help build
the reputation of Royal Dornoch as the perfect
venue for the biennial match.
Finally, you may have noticed in early December
2019 that Golf magazine gave the Championship
Course a ranking of 10 th in the world. As I am sure
you are aware there are now many lists of the best
courses and in recent times we have been quoting
Golf Digest who put the course 4 th in the world.
However the move up from 15 th to 10 th in the Golf
magazine ranking is quite a change and something
to take note of from one of the oldest golf course
rankings there is. We expect Golf Digest to
announce their review in January 2020 so
hopefully more good news to look forward too.
Thank you to all the members who get in touch
and come to play as it is because of you that all of
us here enjoy our work and go the extra mile to
make this the best club in the world.
We all look forward to seeing you soon.
Finance Convenor’s Report
Financially the Club has had another successful
season with our operating surplus increasing by
15% over the previous year. This has resulted in a
cash balance of nearly £6m at the end of
September. As you know as a club nearly all our
income is generated in the first half year. Trading
deficits in the second half result in a dip in cash
balances until January when visitor income paid
in advance and members subscriptions increase
our balances at the year end.
Visitor Green Fees
Visitor green fees have increased by over 15% and
are now well over £2m. Most of this increase is due
to the rate per round increasing by 12.5% to £180
but there has also been a small increase in the
number of visitors playing both the Championship
and Struie courses.
There has been a very significant increase in the
surplus generated by the Professional Shop. This
year the club took the decision to increase the
staffing levels of both the shop and golf operations.
This combined with a significant change in
product mix has resulted in a sales increase in the
6 months of around 30% to over £750,000.
Visitors account for over 80% of sales; the mixture
of high quality merchandise and our famous club
logo seem irresistible, long may it last!
Bar & Catering
Bar sales have increased by over 15% and catering
by 2%. However our investment in increased staff
to improve service levels combined with the usual
winter losses are expected to result in a deficit
similar to last year.
Whilst costs have been largely managed within
budget, some additional expenditure has been
necessary on the course to bring it back to the
standard we all expect. The new 7 th hole is now up
and running and the costs have been largely well
managed. The costs relating to the new putting
green and the changes in the car park are both well
A great deal of time has been spent by the Capital
Projects Team on the new clubhouse and a tight
rein has been kept on the cost of the external
professionals. Currently there are no significant
changes to the budgeted capital costs of the
clubhouse or our expected cash flows from our
operations. As mentioned previously the next
major step in firming up the capital costs will be
in the spring of 2020 when we go out to tender.
We are still in discussions with HIE regarding
some potential funding of the Clubhouse although
HIE’s remit is under internal review and it is far
from certain that this will be to our benefit. On
the other hand we continue to have very
constructive discussions with our bank regarding
any short term facilities should we need them.
Whilst it will not affect the current year our wages
and salaries costs next year are likely to increase
significantly more than inflation. This is to ensure
our staff continue to be remunerated at least in
line with industry standards and local competition.
It is essential not only that we recruit very good
people but also that we retain them. Particularly in
the bar & catering parts of the business where we
are striving for better quality food and service on a
consistent basis it is likely that we will need to
employ more people on annual contracts rather
than place so much reliance on temporary staff. As
I’m sure you will appreciate this is a difficult
The Council of Management have approved for
the 2020/21 membership year an increase in the
Full Members subscription of £15, from £525 to
£540 (2.86%). All other subscription rates will be
increased by this percentage.
We continue to improve our financial management
and reporting and much thanks must go to Neil,
Claire, Martin Lynch and Matt McBride for their very
significant input. We are fortunate to have dedicated
people with the relevant expertise prepared to spend
the time necessary to keep the financial management
of our business in good shape.
Match & Handicap Report
We have enjoyed another successful season over
both links. This year I have enjoyed being involved
in the running of the event and competitions and I
am looking forward to doing even more next season.
There have been many good performances during
the year and I have picked out a few notable
We introduced a new format for the mens Club
Championship, with all the competitors having the
opportunity to compete in all four rounds. As a
result of this there was a notable increase in
entries, with many from overseas, giving us a very
strong field. Chris Mailley came out on top,
winning his 6 th title by 19 shots with an impressive
276 (4 under par). We have again refined the event
for 2020, when we are going to extend the
Handicap Championship to 72 holes. We keep
the Senior Scratch Club Championship to the first
36 holes but we are going to add a Senior
Handicap Championship over these rounds. So we
look forward to having even more entries next year.
Not satisfied with lapping the field in the club
championship Chris also won the Sutherland
County Cup held in Golspie, he retained the
Carnegie Shield and helped his team win the
Burghfield 3 Man Team!
Colin Mackay, one of our past Match and
Handicap Convenors also had a very successful
season. He won the Denis Lovell Eclectic played
for during the winter Saturday Stablefords, the
Bethune Cup (President Cup Handicap) and the
E C Fraser Trophy during the Carnegie Shield.
The winning of these events is all the more
impressive due to each one being played over
Connor Mackay became a first time Dad in
February but he still managed to feature during the
season and in particular in both the major singles
matchplays. He won the Murray Vase beating
Philip Prince and he was runner-up to Ernie
Millard in the Ryle Jug.
Club Competition winners were as follows:
Donald Grant Cup
Paul York Order of Merit
President’s Cup Handicap
President’s Cup Scratch
Struie Club Championship Handicap
Stuart Innes & Craig Sutherland
Alastair & Margot Stoddart
Struie Club Championship Scratch
Club Championship Handicap
Club Championship Scratch
Congratulations to all the prize winners and best wishes to all club members for golfing success in the
Our various Opens have been well supported and it is a great feeling to sit here on competition days as
our visitors rave about the courses and the welcome that they receive when they visit. The various trophies
have been won by both members and visitors with some familiar faces returning to ‘try their luck’ or just
to enjoy the experience.
Open Competition winners were as follows:
E C Fraser Cup
Robbie Grant Seniors
Duncan Murray Quaich
Macleod 7 Club Trophy
Burghfield 3 Man Team
G K Mackay
Gareth Roberts (Hindhead)
David Corben (Hindhead)
Allyn Dick (Kingsfield)
Hoyt Tessener (North Ridge)
Chris Mailley, John Gow & Paul Mailley (Dunbar)
David Pearson & Derek MacDougall
Two other trophies played for over the season are
the Donald Grant Cup (medal winners medal) and
the Paul York Order of Merit, these were won by
Connor Preston and David Pearson respectively.
We have been working towards using a software
that will facilitate online entries for members
medals, matchplays and open competitions and
we are hopeful to have something in place for the
coming season but we will keep you informed of
any developments via the General Manager’s
weekly newsletter. I have also attended a couple
of seminars about the World Handicap System
which will come into place for us in November
2020, again we will keep you informed of any
developments in this area.
To finish, I would just like to thank you all for
supporting our competitions and I look forward
to seeing many of you competing in 2020.
Greens Convenor’s Report
What a difference one year makes. This time last
year we had only just laid out the new green on the
7 th hole and just 60 yards of fairway leading up to
the front of the green. Now we have one bunker
on the left and one bunker on the right of the
green with two more down the left edge of the
fairway to catch the more wayward longer drives.
The putting surface is in excellent condition and
with the temporary use of mats we have been able
to play the hole since the middle of November
albeit from the front tee. Work on the new tees
was completed in mid December with the yellow
and white tee extended to incorporate a new Blue
tee some twenty yards behind the white tee, all of
which were re-aligned to face towards the new
green. The green tee and the red tee have been
positioned nearer the escarpment edge, thereby
making for a slightly easier angle of play and some
We will also build some mounds across the old 7 th
fairway and plant some bushes in order to break
up the ground. The turf from the old green has
already been stripped and has been used in the
extension and alteration of the new practice
putting green that now extends down towards the
first tee of the Struie Course and which is some
seventy metres long. The new green will
incorporate more of the contours that are such a
feature of the Championship Course and, weather
permitting, should be ready for play in the Spring.
We have had an awful lot of rain recently so our
sand top dressing policy on the fairways will
certainly be a help as we try and maintain them to
the level expected of a top links golf course.
The trialling of a rubber matting base in the front
left hand bunker at the 13 th hole has been successful
and therefore we plan to do about six or seven more
bunkers this winter. By linking this work with our
annual revetting of the bunkers we will be able to
fix the matting more securely into position.
On the Struie Course several of the fairways have
suffered from lack of growth especially on the “new
holes” where the soil is of a different type. Coring
and seeding work has been done and an
improvement will be seen this year.
The work done on the new 7 th hole was carried out
almost exclusively by our own greens staff, as well
as the enormous amount of work carried out on
the new putting green.
We have a big debt of thanks to our skilful and
enthusiastic greens staff under the able
management of Eoin Riddell and his deputy Scott
House Convenor’s Report
My second year in the role of House Convenor has
been rewarding. The team in the kitchen and front
of house are successfully achieving ever increasing
standards. We have moved from a situation at the
start of the year of addressing some difficulties, to a
more stable position with members complimenting
the service and food.
The staff team has continued to develop, both in
terms of new staff members joining, and new skills
being added across the team. Our goal remains to be
achieving 4 star standards in service, food and
beverage. To this end, some of our staff have been
visiting other golf clubs, as well as distilleries to
update skills and gain new insights to bring back to
The highlights of the year are too numerous to
mention as many of the special events have surpassed
the 4 star standard. It was encouraging to enjoy the
presence of so many members at the winter season’s
first carvery on the first Sunday in November. This
will continue through to the end of March.
We have taken pride in arranging even more special
events over the winter. By the time you read this, we
will have had our night with Rod Stewart, Christmas
Music Quiz and Hogmanay Dinner.
But still to come are:
Burns Supper on Friday 31 st January with the
Rotary Club of East Sutherland
Bingo and Play Your Cards Right on Saturday 8 th
A Night with Ronan Rafferty Saturday 15 th
Curry Night on Saturday 22 nd February (Bus)
Leap Year Ladies Choice Gin Tasting Saturday 29 th
Johnny Cash/Neil Diamond Tribute Act on
Saturday 7 th March, (Bus)
French Food and New World Wine Matching on
Saturday 14 th March, (Bus)
Race Night Saturday 21 st March (Bus)
Mothers Day Sunday 22 nd March
Last Carvery Sunday 29 th March
Easter Sunday Family Special Sunday 12 th April
Those events with (Bus) indicate the provision of a
pickup and drop off service. The bus service is
available for a small charge, to ensure those using it,
get home safely.
The House Committee have agreed three other new
initiatives. Firstly we kept the Halfway House
(HWH) open for longer during the winter for a trial
period, at a minimal cost to the club. 55% of golfers
playing used the service. We plan to have the HWH
open on special golfing days, weather permitting.
Secondly we are introducing hot food at the HWH.
Thirdly we have designed a survey, to be completed
by members to comment on their experience in the
clubhouse and at the HWH. Please make a
commitment to make your views known, so that our
team can learn from your views and ideas. We hope
to take this learning forward, to improve even further
our service, particularly as we prepare for the new
The achievements made throughout the past year,
and the year to come, I lay at Sue Robb’s (Food &
Beverage Manager) door, Brian Sangster’s (Chef) and
their willing team of workers. Both Sue and Brian’s
professionalism, skills and enthusiasm has made a
very positive impact on the experience in the
Junior Convenor’s Report
The opportunities that all our juniors have at Royal
Dornoch are exceptional but we are not complacent
and the 2020 junior programme will raise the bar
and it is up to our juniors to show their desire to
work hard to develop their golf.
At the heart of our plan is for children to enjoy golf,
have fun and develop their social skills and be a
credit to their parents and their golf club.
In March 2019 the winter training programme saw
our “A” Section juniors enjoy a weekend at the
Home of Golf, St Andrews. Gary took eleven
juniors, accompanied by parents and coaches, who
had a busy and fun weekend full of history, golf &
Day one started at the Links Academy to warm up
before playing the Strathtyrum Course. Their
nutrition lesson had a visit to try ice cream from the
World Famous Jannettas Gelateria!
Day 2 was a visit to Crail Golfing Society to play
alongside the society’s junior golfers on the
Balcomie Course. Our thanks to David Snodgrass
and Crail Golfing Society for their hospitality and
allowing the Dornoch juniors to experience another
World Class golf course.
Vice President, and founder member of the Morcott
Challenge, Jim Campbell, and Jorden Ferrie took
our team to America this year.
After 15 years of playing for the Morcott Trophy at
Royal Dornoch and Hilton Head Island we had a
new venue in Chicago as Mr and Mrs Woody
Morcott were handing over the reins to their son
Scott, ably assisted by his wife Rhian.
The matches were played on the Onwentsia and
Knollwood courses with the professionals Nick
Papadakis and Wade Gurysh making sure the
matches were played in a friendly but competitive
In between the matches cultural visits were
organized for both teams and coaches including a
downtown trip in Chicago which included the
Bean, the Shed Aquarium, the Natural History
Museum and the Harley Davidson factory in
Milwaukee en-route to watch the Chicago Cubs take
on the Brewers at baseball.
Jim Campbell reports, “Although we lost the
matches by one point overall we definitely won on
the dress front with our team immaculately turned
out for the matches and social events. I was
Swilken Bridge, Old Course
Royal Dornoch and Crail Golfing Society Juniors
extremely proud of the way our junior team
represented Royal Dornoch. The experience will be
an important part of their life skills. We look
forward to hosting the American team and coaches
The younger juniors enjoyed matches organised by
Jorden with games against the Ladies and Gents.
After the match versus the Gerries, John Logan who
runs the Gerries commented, “The juniors were a
credit to our golf club”.
There were also games Versus the UHI Students
and this relationship is developing further in 2020
with the students enrolled for the PGA Professional
Course being a support team across all our junior
groups. It is great to have Sean Fay back in Dornoch
and leading on this with Gary.
Royal Dornoch Morcott Team in red
In April we had seventeen youngsters play in the
Wee Wonders qualifier at Fortrose & Rosemarkie
with eight progressing to the Regional Final at
From here four juniors went to the Grand Final
with Mikayla Mackay, age 11, playing at Gullane
No.2. The younger group of Jessie and Molly Lewis
and Harry Fleming played at North Berwick and
their first experience playing in a Final.
Jessie Lewis, Harry Fleming, Molly Lewis
From the 2018 results of the Wee Wonders, Finn
Hallam, age 7, Mikayla Mackay, age 11, Zara
Macdonald, age 13, were invited to enter the US
Kids European Championships. This was a great
experience for our juniors who saw the standard
they must aim for nationally. They all returned
enthusiastic and loved the event.
Jorden ran an Order of Merit for the Wildcat and
Minis sections playing on the Academy holes.
Wildcat and Minis Junior Section
The Minis play from the forward black tees and Isla
MacCulloch won that age group. Finn Hallam won
the Wildcats section who played from the green tees.
It is good to see more parents playing golf with their
children and we encourage this.
Can you imagine having thirty under seven year olds
for golf coaching, well that’s what Jorden has on
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons during the golf
season and from November to March we have three
classes on a Sunday for Minis and Wildcat sections.
No need to ask are these juniors enjoying their golf.
The smiles in photos of the Wildcats and Minis says
This is where we shall benefit from the UHI Student
helpers playing with them and helping with rules
and etiquette and being on hand when Order of
Merit weekends take place.
Our programme of events for 2020 includes Junior
and Adult events that builds on the fun days we had
this year. This can be a junior playing with a family
member or a family friend. The pattern for the day
is golf followed by food afterwards in the clubhouse.
(L to R) Rhianna, Mikayla, and Zara at Muir of Ord
North Girls Championships
Our first event was on Burns weekend and that was
followed by a successful Masters Sunday event which
saw a full house of 20 pairs playing and staying to
watch the Masters on the big screen in the lounge.
The Father’s Day event fell on the last day of the US
Open. Not luck, but good planning.
What a climax these events had when Jorden
organised the Solheim Cup Day with 48 players
playing foursomes on the Struie for the Royal
Dornoch Solheim Cup and guess what – EUROPE
WON. Watch out for 2020 and a busy Ryder Cup
Ian Lagowitz with Hannah Riddell
2019 saw girls playing several away competitions.
Mikayla and Rhianna Mackay played in Junior
Opens and Northern Counties competitions at
Brora, Inverness, Moray, Muir of Ord and Fortrose
& Rosemarkie with Zara Macdonald.
All three played in the North of Scotland Ladies
Championships at Elgin where Zara had a 92 gross
nett 70 to win the North of Scotland Girls
Handicap Championship. Along with Zara,
Rhianna also qualified for the matchplay with a nett
71 and made it to the semi-final stage.
Zara also played in the Scottish Under 14 Competition
played at Elgin and gained valuable experience.
This year we added a new trophy to our list with the
Alex Lagowitz Cup which was awarded to Hannah
Riddell. The Award recognises long term
commitment to supporting the junior section.
This includes considering golf etiquette, good
attitude, being helpful and courteous and displaying
behaviours we wish our younger juniors to follow.
Our Caddies Cup day will always feature as the best
golf day for juniors and that should never change.
Speaking to Kevin Matheson and Andrew Skinner
they still remember the excitement and the
anticipation as Caddies Cup grew closer. For some
it was the glory of lifting the cup, for other it was
the massive spread of food, sorry Kevin.
2019 Caddies Cup Results
Alex Lagowitz award
Girls Champ Trophy
Ken Natsusaka Cup
A. Reeves Memorial
R. McCulloch Shield
John Gordon Medal
All Junior Sections
“A” Section 1st Scratch
“A” Section 1st Scratch
‘A’ Boys Eclectic
‘A’ Girls Eclectic
Most Improved Golfer
2019 Competition Results
Robert Murray Adult/Junior
Skinner Competition A/B
Donald Ross Open – Peter De Savary Trophy
Donald Ross Open – Provost Trophy
Neil Leslie & John Leslie
John Leslie & Alistair Matheson
Prize Winners on Caddies Day
Hans Burkhard Cup
We finally managed to play the 36 hole Hans
Burkhard competition on Saturday 9th and Sunday
10th November after poor weather caused
cancellations. Max Hampton won with scores of 81
and 76 to win by 7 shots.
Scottish Golf have selected Royal Dornoch as a base
for one of their forty Girls Hub Centres. We have also
signed up to be included in the Golf Sixes rollout
across Scotland. Golf Sixes encourages clubs to take
their juniors to play different golf courses. The format
is six clubs playing at one of the courses with six juniors
in a team and using different golf formats during the
round robin league, but the emphasis is on fun and
building confidence while making new friends.
A big thank you to Alastair Stoddart for his three
years as Junior Convenor which he completed in
August 2019. To Gary and Jorden, the juniors and
parents appreciate all you bring to our junior
section. Thanks also to Owen Mackay for his time
as Junior Captain.
The final words are from Tom McFall, Junior
Captain. “This will be an exciting season with new
equipment to prepare us for competitions and the
Morcott contingent coming to Dornoch. I am
looking forward to more in-house golf and the
scoring in the weekly newsletter as an incentive for
our juniors to practice hard and play more.”
Marketing Convenor’s Report
Another extremely busy and successful year for
Royal Dornoch, which has again seen visitor
numbers increasing, this is supported by an
increase in our popularity worldwide. In the
recently published GOLF magazines Top 100
courses in the world we climbed 5 places to
number 10, pushing the world famous Pebble
beach out of the top 10.
National Club Golfer also gave Royal Dornoch
special mention under their “Best for Mystique”
category. This is something the local members
appreciate and enjoy all year round, and I am sure
part of what the rest of the world members
appreciate most about coming to Dornoch,
escaping from the buzz of city life and immersing
in the tranquillity of life in the Highlands.
We continue to work closely with Quatro (formerly
System2) on the PR and social media side, this is
an area we continue to grow and are trying to
develop new ideas and opportunities regularly. In
the last year we have increased our followers by
over 11% and have over 3,500 engagements per
week over the various platforms. We hope those
of you who delve into the world of social media
regularly continue to enjoy our content.
We have also recently released flyovers of several
holes on the Championship Course, these have
been on social media and the website. They offer
a good insight into how visually impressive our golf
course really is.
Neil once again attended the Scottish Golf Tourism
Week and the PGA Show in Florida, these are
always productive events for cementing old and
building new relationships particularly with tour
operators. Bradley, our Retail Manager, attended
the PGA Show also allowing him to look into new
merchandise opportunities, hopefully you have all
found something nice in the Pro Shop this year.
Our involvement in the Highland Golf Links
continues and the HGL Pro-Am continues to
grow, this is a very well attended event by many of
Scotland’s top PGA Professionals and host of
amateurs from all over who enjoy a fantastic week
on the 3 world class golf courses we have on our
doorstep - Nairn, Castle Stuart and Royal
We also continue to run popular social events,
particularly over the winter months. Recently we
have enjoyed, amongst others, live music, whisky
& gin tastings and quiz nights, look out for more
events in the coming months.
Thanks must go to the members who continue to
talk highly of our club, this is the best form of
This year we collaborated with Carnegie Whisky
Cellars to have our logo and tartan on a bottle of
single malt whisky, those of you who indulge in a
nip or two, I hope you have enjoyed this.
Retail Convenor’s Report
I’m delighted to be bringing you the very first Retail report!
It’s already two years since the Club transitioned the Pro
Shop from Andrew Skinner and things go from strength
Bradley is also now in his second year with us and I think
we would all agree he and his team have done a tremendous
job. The Shop is a vital contributor of revenue and profit
and is very much at the forefront of day to day operations.
In conjunction with our Golf Operations Team it is the
first face toface contact for our visitors.
In the UK golf market, despite its modest size, our shop is
probably one of the top performers in terms of the amount
of revenue generated per sq. foot!
We have had two fantastic years in terms of sales and
profitability, a result of a renewed focus on customer, range,
display and quality. At the time of writing we have already
achieved a record turnover of close to £850,000, 30%
higher than last year.
Bradley has a challenging role to balance the various
demands we make as members alongside the fact that 80%
of our revenue comes from Visitors, especially from the
USA. I do feel it is important to make sure members feel
that they have a “Pro Shop” that works for them as well as
the visitors. It is essential that we continue to offer a full
range of “traditional” services such as teaching, playing
lessons, club fitting and repairs alongside a contemporary
range of clothes and accessories. Sometimes in the height
of the season this can be really difficult, I know local
members at times feel “swamped” by the number of visitors.
I am therefore encouraging the team to put more emphasis
on our members in the 2020 season and will shortly be
asking for your views through an on-line survey.
There have been various initiatives launched this year:
• We have raised the ongoing member discount level to
20% which is now taken directly from the retail price.
• Bradley and his team also “price check” versus our
competitor clubs and in the main we compare well on
the majority of key lines.
• We have introduced regular off season sales at discounts
of up to 50% for our Members, at the time of writing
this I have just seen a shop full of Members taking
advantage of the Black Friday Sale!
• We also sell off hire clubs and trollies at heavily
discounted rates at the end of each season.
I would always encourage Members to talk directly to
Bradley if they feel we are not competitive or if we are not
stocking what they are looking for. The last thing we want
is for members to feel they have to buy elsewhere.
One development I am really proud of has been the launch
of our members only “Wildcat” range and our links with
the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. The thinking on
developing this range was to make members feel really
special by giving them something only they could purchase.
For every Wildcat sale in the shop we donate £5 to Wildcat
conservation here in the Highlands and so far we have
contributed over £3000. More new lines will be announced
very shortly to supplement the merino wool and cashmere
jumpers, head covers and golf bags.
Finally, some news which is hot off the press. With the
support of the Junior fund we have invested in a state of
the art “Trackman” system. At the time of writing this is
being trialled by the juniors in the warehouse where we
have built an all-weather “net room”, however, Trackman
is fully portable and will also be available for club fitting on
That’s it for now, feel free to contact Brad or myself with
thoughts or suggestions.
There are no plans to stop offering lines featuring the
existing Royal Dornoch logo (which are still incredibly
popular and some Members prefer) but of course these
lines are available to anyone including the thousands of
visitors who visit us each year. Wildcat lines are strictly
limited to Members and are pre-order only, making it easy
to identify fellow Royal Dornoch members throughout the
world! Don’t forget we also now have our own embroidery
machine which can personalise various products for you,
it’s not just for caps!
It continues to be a great privilege to be President of
Royal Dornoch and to have the opportunity to
contribute towards the smooth running of the Club in
whatever way is required. I am fortunate also to have the
support of the Vice Presidents Hamish Macrae, Jim
Campbell and Christine Murray here in Dornoch and
Woody Morcott in the USA which has been much
It is said that timing is everything and I was in the right
place at the right time to be asked again to present the
prizes at the Caddies Cup. It really is one of the best
events in that it is so well supported and it is such a
pleasure to see so many enthusiastic young faces not to
mention the adults attending as well. We should
encourage our juniors as much as we can and it is hoped
that Royal Dornoch can be regarded as having played at
least a small part in their future success whether on or
off the golf course.
Dornoch seems to have been even busier than in
previous years both in the town and on the golf courses.
I have had the pleasure of meeting many Members (both
based locally and away) and visitors from far and wide
who seem to have very much enjoyed their time here. Of
course it is never possible to please all the people all the
time but our staff have done their utmost to make sure
our Members and visitors have been given a high quality
Royal Dornoch experience which should be appreciated.
There are changes underway on the Championship
Course in altering the 7 th hole to take advantage of the
splendid views available and also extending the practice
putting green. The work is being carried out by our own
greens staff who as usual are doing an excellent job and
have presented both the courses all year in very good
condition despite some rather unfavourable weather
from time to time.
The high standard of the Championship Course and
related facilities have been recognised as the Club has
been chosen to hold the Men’s Home Internationals in
2020 and the R & A Senior Amateur Championship in
2021. Congratulations are due in no small measure to all
our staff for their contributions in achieving that success.
While sifting through some old files and papers I came
across a quote from Donald Ross which I would like to
share with you. He moved to the USA in 1899 and
achieved success as a player, teacher and golf course
architect. However he never forgot his roots in Dornoch
and praised Royal Dornoch by saying “it is the most
beautifully situated links in the world and no American
golfer should omit to go there, where he will find the best
golf, a royal welcome and no rabble”. I would like to
think we can still provide that...even the last bit!
Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2020 and trust that
your golf will live up to your hopes and expectations.
We have once again had a busy year enjoying both
competitive and fun events throughout the season.
At our AGM in October our Secretary, Rosemary
Muschamp, retired after 4 years. We shall all miss
Rosemary’s efficiency and sense of humour.
Kathleen Mackenzie, our “flower lady”, also
stepped down from the committee. Thank you
both. We welcomed Lisa Dickenson back as
Secretary and Anne Gunn to committee.
Our Club Champion is Cara Thompson, who
defeated Alison Bartlett in the final and our
Handicap Champion is Elizabeth Coghill who
beat Margaret Ross. This year saw the introduction
of a Strokeplay Club Championship. Alison
Bartlett won the scratch trophy and Caroline
Madeley the handicap.
Other trophy winners this year were Margaret Ross
– Sykes Cup; Theresa Campbell – Sutherland
Cup; Alison Bartlett and Kathleen Mackenzie -
Barrow Cup; Caitlin Boa – Davidson Trophy and
Daisy Simpson Bogey Trophy; Ann Little – Struie
Cup; Caroline Madeley – McQueen Cup; Wilma
Murray – Grant Cup; Ashley Rose – Macleod
Trophy; Rosemary Muschamp and Deborah
Thomassen – Mrs Winter Cup; Alison Bartlett –
Constance Young Seniors Trophy. Well done
In the Open competitions there was success for a
number of our ladies. In the Ladies Open
Caroline Madeley won the Lovell Salver and Cara
Thompson was the silver medallist. The bronze
division was won by Bel Shepherd. The Seniors
Open was won by Pam Moscati. The 3 Lady Team
Open was won by Bel Shepherd with Vicki and
Suzy Sutherland. There were many more Royal
Dornoch ladies featuring in all the Open prize lists.
Well done all.
Qualifiers for the Daily Mail Foursomes are Fiona
MacDonald and Theresa Campbell. The
Coronation Foursomes qualifiers are Trish Weekes
and Moira Rennie.
We enjoyed friendly fixtures against Inverness,
Nairn, Fortrose, Tain, Bonar Bridge, Brora and
Golspie. These matches are always played in good
spirit and are enjoyed by all who participate, and I
encourage all ladies to put themselves forward for
these matches no matter what their handicap is.
Thank you to Fiona MacDonald who has run
these matches so efficiently.
Our teams again did well in the Ross/Sutherland
where Dornoch 1 and 2 were victorious.
Unfortunately the Caithness/Sutherland was
cancelled at the last minute due to very bad
Alison Bartlett won the inaugural North District
Seniors at Grantown. Three of our junior girls did
very well in North District events this year.
Rhianna and Mikayla Mackay and Zara
Macdonald shone not only in the girls
competitions but also did very well in the Ladies
Championship at Moray. Well done girls.
It is wonderful to see our young junior members
doing so well both at Dornoch and with Northern
Counties – very encouraging for the future. Also
Zara scored an excellent nett 64 in the Donald
Ross Junior Open on Struie. I must also take this
opportunity to congratulate Hannah Riddell for
being the first recipient of the Alex Lagowitz Award
– very well deserved.
In the Highland Vets the trophy for Silver
Aggregate was won by Alison Bartlett.
We played a mixed greensomes with the Men’s
Senior section which was enjoyed by all. Both our
matches along with and against the Wednesday
Seniors were unfortunately cancelled due to bad
weather but we look forward to competing again
with “The Gerries” next year.
UHI students again organised a fun evening for
those taking part in our annual match with them,
which was the usual enjoyable day.
This year our Ladies’ outing was to Carrbridge, a
lovely little course, and I think we all enjoyed our
The charity this year was a Club Charity as Rob
and I decided to support the same one – Chest,
Heart and Stroke Scotland. Thank you all for
being so generous, and a special mention to the
Monday afternoon Bridge players who very kindly
donated their money to our charity. This is to
continue to be our charity for 2020.
One special highlight of my year was a visit to HMS
Sutherland courtesy of the golf club – a most
enjoyable and interesting afternoon.
Another special date was our Annual Dinner when
we celebrated 30 years of Ladies Dinners, the first
having taken place in the Burghfield Hotel in
1989. It was wonderful that we had an excellent
turnout of ladies who had organised and attended
the very first dinner.
of house staff; Brian and his kitchen crew and
Andrew, Bradley, Gary and Jorden and everyone
else in the Pro Shop; and last but not least Eoin
Riddell and all his team. Thank you all.
I could not have managed without the support of
my committee. They are always willing to do
whatever is asked of them. Thank you ladies.
Thanks also to all the ladies who volunteered to
help at Opens and other events.
I wish you all well for 2020. Please continue to
participate in our club events as this keeps our
Ladies’ Section flourishing.
On behalf of the ladies section I thank all the
Royal Dornoch staff – Neil, Claire, Alison, Donna,
Elaine and Stuart in the office; Sue and all front
With the Summer season having finished, the
Seniors are now into the Winter schedule of
Tuesday roll-up four-ball better-balls with a
monthly Stableford. This Winter a monthly
Greensomes is being trialled, to introduce further
variety to the competitions. One thing is certain,
as the course appears longer with cooler air and
wet ground, using the green tees has been greatly
appreciated. The Winter tees will be greeted with
During the Summer thirteen matches were played,
seven won, five lost and one halved. Five of the
victories came at home, but Tain and Hopeman
were both vanquished away. The only home defeat
came against The Senior Society. Unfortunately
Royal Dornoch failed to regain the Alex Sim
Quaich from Royal Aberdeen, that match being
halved. Thank you very much to the forty-one
members who represented the Senior Section,
especially those who answered last-minute calls.
During the Summer the various medal, Stableford
and team competitions plus the Barry Watson
Quaich all attracted substantial entries.
The winners are:
Summer Championship: Stuart Shaw;
W. E. Skinner Cup (Senior Scratch):
Seniors Spring Meeting (May Medal):
Willie MacDonald Quaich (Senior Handicap):
Barry Watson Quaich (H’cap Matchplay):
The Bartlett Cup (Scr. Matchplay):
The Senior Section had fifty-three members this
year, most of whom were actively involved in our
events. After three years, John McMurray stepped
down as Secretary. At the AGM he was thanked
for all his hard work. He was replaced by myself.
Matthew McBride completed his two-year stint as
Captain, Adrian Bagott stepping up to this
position. At the AGM appreciation was expressed
for Matt’s contribution. The new Vice-captain is
David Muschamp. On the committee Derek
MacDougall replaced Hamish Macrae who had
completed his three-year period as a committee
Quaich, will be taken in the Pro Shop along with
all other Club matchplay competition entries.
Finally, my thanks to Andrew Skinner for making
the monthly medal/stableford draws; all the office
staff for their patience and support; the greens staff
for providing such a high quality course, much
appreciated by ourselves and our visitors, who
made many favourable comments; the catering
and bar staff for the excellent food and service after
matches. Also thank you to the members of the
committee for their valuable assistance helping me
through my first season as secretary.
Next year there is a full list of competitions and
matches, which it is hoped members will enter and
enjoy. New members are always welcome, annual
subscription being £10. Please note, entries,
together with fee of £2 for The Barry Watson
Senior Section Secretary
Wednesday Seniors (The Geriatrics)
Once again we had a a good turnout with an
average of 25 to 30 or so members playing each
Wednesday throughout the summer and early
autumn. The turnout peaked at 38.
The Martin Steeves Trophy was played for the first
time and we were pleased that his widow Mary
presented it. The mixed greensomes competition
was again cancelled due to bad weather and the
Ladies v Geriatrics was cancelled due to a
congestion of fixtures. Jorden arranged for some
of the juniors to play with us on a Wednesday
morning and joined us for ‘afters’ but they missed
out on a dram! It was especially pleasing that their
captain Tom and his brother Angus turned up as
they had just arrived back late at night from the
USA. They did look jet-lagged.
Whilst we are enjoying ourselves our donations
(which is the weekly entry fee) have been
accumulating. This year we again raised £1250 for
charity - £500 each to the Dornoch Medical
Practice and the Highland Hospice, and £250 to
the Heritage Society.
Our Annual Luncheon and Competition took
place on Wednesday 25 th September and was well
attended as usual. Many thanks to the chef &
catering staff as we were well fed and watered. I also
thank the front of house staff for looking after us
throughout the season and to the club for
supplying the wine. Our guests were President
Gordon Lawson, Captain Rob Murray, Ladies
Captain Norma Fleming, General Manager Neil
Hampton, Assistant Manager, Claire Riddell, Club
Pro Andrew Skinner and Course Manager Eoin
Riddell who gives us a well prepared course
although we do sometimes question the pin
Norma graciously presented the prizes & trophies
and stoically withstood many geriatric embraces.
As usual we all retired mellow and happy.
John S Logan
The results for the season:
Competition Winner Runner Up
Spring Mixed Greensomes
J T Robertson Cup
Jim Seatter Rosebowl
Macleod Thomson Targes
Niall Curry Trophy
Patterson Salver Foursomes
Heritage 5 Club
John Green Quaich
Peter Monk Trophy
J N Patterson Quaich
K W Milne Whisky Greensomes
Archie Forbes Trophy
Martin Steeves Trophy
Qualifying Appearances – 15
For trophies below
Hugh Steele Trophy
Anniversary Trophy 81 & Over A
Florence Patterson Trophy 76 & Over B
Trowbridge Trophy 70 & Over C
Bill Smith Trophy 65 & Over D
Twomey Trophy Under 65 E
President’s Shield (Non-Qualified) F
W E Skinner Quaich Highest Average
J N Patterson Eclectic Trophy Eclectic
Willie Skinner Ray Bower
Hugh Anderson John Calder
Gordon Lawson Alan McKillop
Don MacKay 37 Andy Marshall 36
Phil Prince 23.94 Ian Irwin 23.00
Phil Prince 132 Steve Webb 131
Ronnie Bruce 132
E H McDonald Painting –
‘Thanks for the Memory’
Meet the Team
people play and what we’d now term “grow the
game”, I’ve never forgotten that!
My name is Scott Aitchison. I am the Deputy Course
Manager here at Royal Dornoch and I’ve been a
greenkeeper for 28 years.
My life began in Kilwinning, North East Ayrshire, in
the town where my mum’s family came from. My
father was an East End of Glasgow boy and this was
his first pit stop in a quest to live on the coast. My
mum was from a golfing family and did well,
winning 13 club championships at 3 different clubs
and represented Scotland at amateur level. As a
family we seemed to move every couple of years when
I was wee so I was never settled or was able to cement
friendships however the first club I remember being
around was Troon Welbeck where my dad was the
treasurer and I remember getting a Pepsi and a pack
of Tudor Spring Onion crisps if I helped him count
and bank the money. He also took me out to play
there and got me lessons with Willie Hastings who
was a local man, golf mad and just wanted to help
Sadly, my parents got divorced and I moved with my
mum to Prestwick which is where I call home.
Prestwick St Nicholas was now my mum’s club and I
got a junior membership when I was old enough at
12 year of age. I’m a terrible player but I love it and
there’s more to golf than playing well. Having always
been in and about golf clubs, I can tell you there’s lots
to learn. There’s rules, there’s etiquette, there’s
manners, there’s respect, there’s social interaction
from men, women and children where on occasion
the best and worst of human nature can be on
display, but also opportunity, and as junior captain
of St Nic’s, I got the first refusal to become a seasonal
worker on the greenstaff. I took it and had one of the
most exhilarating months of my life as a 16 year old.
I was working in a team of colourful characters who
had stories like I’d never heard. I was wet behind my
significant ears until I started working with these
guys so had to grow up fast. I was fit so enjoyed the
physical work and had such a laugh doing it, all while
getting a suntan. I was asked back for the October
holidays too and after that when it was time to pick
the places where we’d go for further education and
I was offered an apprenticeship on the greenstaff. We
had the fear of unemployment drummed into us by
the school in those days and it was pointed out to
me the large number of jobs in greenkeeping
available throughout the UK at the back of the
Industry magazine each month. It was more difficult
to convince my parents however as they expected
university graduation despite me having very little
academic ability- deluded! Anyway I accepted.
My boss was from Dornoch so I became well aware
of the qualities of Royal Dornoch as a course and as
a younger man I had previously watched Tom
Watson’s speech describing it as the most fun he ever
had on a golf course, which stuck with me. The train
on my train set was called the Duchess of Sutherland
so perhaps it was being written in the stars I’d
eventually move here! I came up to play in a
greenkeeping tournament in 1995 and was blown
away by the course and the atmosphere in the
clubhouse afterwards. I must have been doing
something right in my 7 years at St Nic’s because
when my boss got the job as Head Greenkeeper at
Royal Dornoch in 1997 he offered me the first
assistant’s role if I’d come up and run the Struie
Course for him. I took him up on it and moved my
girlfriend and step daughter to Dornoch with me.
I thought I’d stay a couple of years, get the Club on
my CV and drift off round the world, instead I fell
in love with Dornoch, the people and couldn’t
imagine a better place to raise children. I got married
and two more children came along, both of whom
have been raised in the Dornoch community and
became junior members, so they benefitted from the
opportunities that brings including the amazing
things like the Morcott Challenge.
I’ve worked with Eoin Riddell now for 22 years, who
took over as Course Manager in 2005, and in 2007.
I was honoured when he asked me to be his Deputy
Course Manager. I’ve watched Eoin take the course
to a different level, we’ve been through a lot together
and we are a good foil for each other. I’m very much
about team, it’s all I’m interested in as far as work
goes – I’d be useless self employed. I live for winning
as a team and here at Dornoch I know we could go
toe to toe with any greenstaff in the world, we have
such talent in our ranks. Some of the work in the
past 5 years in particular, has been remarkable. It’s a
major part of who I am, but I wouldn’t define myself
by my job.
I have other passions including sport and music. My
children are grown up now and occasionally they
remember where I stay so I get to spend some time
with them, but I’ve lived in 5 houses throughout the
town and massively appreciate the community aspect
that is the soul of the place. Although I can’t play a
note, I love all types of music and go to lots of
concerts up and down the country.
My first love is football and my cross to bear is that I
support Ayr United Football Club. I never managed
to catch the eye of their scout back in the day BUT
I have been captain of Dornoch FC, the Zeebz, both
summer and winter league teams... although I have
never been asked for an autograph by any of the
I’m very lucky to have been part of this wonderful
community and golf club especially at this time when
so much is changing. I remain as passionate as ever
about how I can affect it positively and wake up each
morning with that in mind. I look forward to seeing
the new clubhouse and the change in dynamic that
will bring to the club and town. My best wishes to
all members near and far and to the multitude of
visitors who come here like I once did to see what
the buzz is all about.
Deputy Course Manager
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting
Minutes of the Annual General
Meeting of Royal Dornoch Golf Club
Held in Dornoch Academy on Friday
16 th August 2019 at 7.30pm
Captain Rob Murray in the Chair
Present: 156 Ordinary Members, 11 Struie/Social
1. Meeting Overview
The Captain welcomed everyone to the meeting
and thanked them for turning out in such
numbers. He highlighted some points of order,
namely switching off mobile phones, that there
were no fire alarms scheduled so should the alarm
go off please exit the building in a calm and orderly
fashion, direct any questions from the floor
through the chair, wait for the microphone, state
your name so it can accurately be recorded in
minutes, only one voice at a time and be courteous
to those speaking.
4. Matters Arising from the Minutes
There are no outstanding matters arising, all
matters raised at last year’s meeting having been
5. Captain’s Report
The Captain had nothing material to add to his
report but noted the following: “We have had a
good year, the Championship Course is in
excellent condition, we are financially in a good
place and the Clubhouse Project is progressing
well. Thank you to all those working in and around
the club and to those on Council of Management,
Sub Committees and the Projects Team for the
tremendous amount of time and effort you put in
for the club and for supporting me in my first year
6. Election of Vice President
2. Apologies for absence
19 received prior to the meeting, 1 received at the
3. Approval of Minutes
Minutes of 2018 AGM (circulated previously).
Proposed by Rob Murray and Seconded by John
Mr W H Macrae is eligible for re-election, he is
willing to serve again and is unanimously
nominated by the Council of Management.
Seconded by Gordon Lawson and unanimously
approved by those present.
Mr Macrae accepted the position and said that it
was an honour and privilege to have this
nomination. “I have been a member for 50 years,
have served as captain and a previous term as vice
president, thank you all very much.”
Approved by a show of hands.
7. Election of Members of the Council of
The retiring members are: Mr S J M McMurray,
Mr A G R Shannon and Mr A Stoddart.
The Captain thanked them for their hard work,
dedication and time given to the club during their
term of office.
There were three candidates and the Captain asked
them to say a few words of introduction and what
qualities they would bring to Council on serving
Ian P Madeley
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m Ian
Madeley, not all of you here know me so I would
very briefly like to introduce myself to you. I’m
delighted to have the opportunity to serve Royal
Dornoch on its Council of Management. What is
my connection to the club? My wife Caroline and
I have been coming to Dornoch to play golf for
over 35 years and I have been a member for 11
years. We built a house here 9 years ago which
houses webcam No.2 for the club. We moved here
permanently 4 years ago and 2 years ago (because
of my retail experience) I was asked to be part of
the retail sub committee run by Tony Bartlett. The
financial contribution retail makes to Royal
Dornoch is vital and this group meets on a regular
basis. I helped transition the business to the club,
handled recruitment of new key members of staff,
developed the members Wildcat range and our
relationship with RZSS and have introduced a
higher level of product quality control. If the
Captain asks me to become the retail convenor
then I would hope to continue improving what we
can offer in the shop, for example our members
now have 20% discount and regular 50% sales. I
will look forward to hearing your views and thanks
Ian W Irwin
“Back in the 1970’s l worked as a quantity surveyor
for a couple of civil engineering and construction
companies on various projects including but not
limited to the construction of a 100m high
reinforced concrete grain silo, the precision
demolition of a 120ft high industrial brick
chimney and the construction of underground
storage tanks etc. at a USAF air force base in the
UK when that base was part of NATO’s strategic
defence during the cold war. In the 1980’s l joined
a professional quantity surveying firm who were
acting for and on behalf of BP in the construction
of the Sullom Voe oil terminal in Shetland.
Thereafter l was posted on other oil and gas
projects including a 2 year stint at Shell’s Stanlow
oil refinery in which a major upgrade was carried
out. l then joined Shell as a contracts engineer in
Aberdeen putting in place various and numerous
North Sea onshore and offshore contracts and
after circa 3 years l transferred to one of their
major contractors. I remained with this contractor
the rest of my working life, working as a contracts
engineer/manager on numerous North Sea
onshore and offshore projects for various major oil
operators. This involved all commercial activities
in putting back to back contracts in place with
various sized subcontractors. During the last six or
so years l also took on the role of office services
contracts manager putting in place all the contracts
necessary in order to operate a number of office
buildings where we had over 3,000 personnel in a
number of UK locations. Why did I move to
Dornoch some 28 years ago? well the reason was
not golf but a wee highland lass l took a shine to
whilst working at Stanlow Oil refinery and who
became my wife. This lass along with some of you
here went to school in Dornoch. The rest as they
say is history. For the record I joined Royal
Dornoch as a member back in 1995. If l get
nominated l would hope that l may be able to assist
Royal Dornoch in its successful future.”
S John M McMurray
“I have been a member since March 2003 and
served the Seniors as Secretary between March
2016 and April 2019. I have been a member of the
Council for the last year during which time I was
House Convenor. At my previous club I was
Handicap Convenor for 4 years. I wish to see our
club continue to prosper and maintain at least a 4
star service in the longer term, thank you.”
As has been normal practice with 3 candidates for
3 positions you are all duly elected as members of
8. Statement and Adoption of Accounts for the
The Finance Convener, Mr A.D. Bartlett told the
meeting that he would first comment on the
accounts for the year ended 31 st March 2019,
answering any questions, and then say a few words
about the current year and the future.
Besides the £200,000 external costs spent so far on
the 7th hole, the greenkeepers have worked nearly
5000 hours on the project over the past two years.
At last year’s AGM we gained approval to spend
up to £400,000 on professional fees in the year. So
far around £200,000 has been spent.
On other matters
Our budget for the current year is based on
achieving an operating profit of £1.5m.
To date nearly all revenue streams are ahead of
budget and costs are close to budget. Overall our
surplus is running well ahead of budget.
Of particular note is the Pro Shop. Whilst we
budgeted for a large increase in sales this year the
results to date show a significant increase over
Our cash position is standing at over £5.7m but
we continue to be heavily reliant on bookings in
advance to achieve our annual budgeted cash flow
For next year our visitor green fees are going up to
£195 per person however for many of our overseas
visitors the increase in their local currency is likely
to be reduced by the weakness of Sterling.
Looking forward it is likely that our employment
costs will rise higher than inflation both because
local competition for staff is high and we need the
right people to meet our quality of service
Much progress has been made regarding
budgeting, monthly financial reporting and the
production of financial information by
department. Thanks go particularly to Matt
McBride and Martin Lynch for the many hours
they have spent to help achieve this.
The adoption of the accounts was proposed by
Tony Bartlett, seconded by Mr Willie MacKay and
was passed by a show of hands.
Surplus in the pro shop and merchandising, how
is it made up and what is it now?
Last year the turnover in the shop was £650k and
this year we set a budget of 750k. To date we are
exceeding that significantly. The profitability is
made up of the gross margin of sales after various
provisions and is around 45%. Besides that, we
have the trolley, buggy and club hire which is
around £60-70k. The costs of running the shop are
not just the shop stock and staff but also the meet
& greet staff so the pro shop figures absorb more
than just the retail element.
10. Greens Convenor Report
The Green Convenor had nothing to add to his
report and there were no questions submitted
prior to the meeting.
Questions from the floor
Plans to have solid bases in some bunkers has not
We will do one at the 2 nd of the Championship
Course and maybe more time permitting.
9. Election of Auditors
The Council of Management unanimously
proposes that the firm of Mackenzie Kerr be reappointed
as club auditors.
Championship Course is very good but the Struie
Course is not so good with several parts suffering,
what plans to rectify this?
We have started coring and reseeding.
This was proposed by Tony Bartlett, seconded by
Gordon Davies and passed by a show of hands.
The practice facilities for the adults are all very
poor, the greens at the bunker and pitching areas
don’t reflect the golf course which make it difficult
to chip and putt and the academy holes are for the
younger players so the adults just have the
Point taken and we will look into it.
According to the measurements that I have taken
the 7 th hole is not as agreed by the members in
2016, with fairway, greens and tees not in the same
places as set out in the plan. If it is not as the
members passed at the AGM where do we stand
as we seem to be building a different hole to that
approved by the members?
The hole was built under the architect’s
supervision, he is very pleased with what has been
built and the quality of the work that has been
done. All architects will refine their design as the
construction progresses but we will look into the
differences from the original plan with the
architect. The decision to open for play will not be
made until the growing season is complete.
There has been good work done and we have a
magnificent hole. Do the members agree?
The CoM need to take these comments on board
and look into it.
The Captain confirmed that this is what he said
would be done.
Will there be OOB on the right of the 7 th hole?
We will wait see what if anything is required once
the hole is open for play.
The current line of the GUR does not reflect
where the edge of the new fairway will be.
This was confirmed.
11. Clubhouse Project
At last year’s AGM the members were asked to
support the project in agreeing to spend up to
£400k in fees to complete the design process and
in doing so the intention was to build a clubhouse
on a new site. The resolution achieved 89%
support in favour of a new clubhouse.
The Captain asked that the focus is on the
resolution and not get side tracked on issues of the
design, site or specific detail. He assured the
meeting that the Projects Team with vast
professional experience have worked diligently
with our professional advisers in challenging the
detail of all aspects of the project.
During the past year and following the two open
meetings and subsequent emailing of the proposals
there has been overwhelming support of the
project and no one has challenged the overall
There have been two member meetings explaining
progress made and giving full details of the project
and the financial implications. We are working to
a budget not to exceed £9m, which has been agreed
with our professional advisers and includes a
significant contingency. It is unlikely that on the
cost side we will have significantly firmer numbers
until we tender the project which will be in the
middle of next year when hopefully the Brexit issue
will be clearer.
What happens if the tender costs are significantly
higher than our budget? Whilst this is not expected
to happen the Projects Team and the Council of
Management have agreed that should the costs
arising from the tendering process be more than
10% over the budget and we still wish to continue
we will seek confirmation from members that they
want to proceed. The Captain assured the meeting
that the members would be kept informed during
the next stage of the process.
The Captain summed up by saying “This
resolution requires a two thirds majority to succeed
and I urge you to support in line with the positive
momentum we have received since last year’s AGM
and the two open meetings so we can finally build
a new clubhouse to serve the club for the next 50
years and beyond which we can afford without
putting the club at risk.”
There were no comments from the floor.
The result of the secret ballot was 137 for the
resolution with 14 against.
This concluded the official section of the AGM at
The Captain then opened the forum for members
to bring up items for the Council of Management
We have seen with the Clubhouse project an
appropriate undertaking for subsequent members’
review of the investment in the case of potential
significant overspend: i.e. further approval.
Nevertheless, on an ongoing basis whereas rule
16(f) of the club requires a majority from a general
meeting for fixed and financial investments over
£500k and rule 16(g) for borrowings over £250k,
no requirement exists to specify an approved value
nor restrictions on any overspend.
This means, for example, that an approved amount
of “over £500k” (£501k say) could result in an
actual expenditure of, perhaps, £8 million without
further requirement to seek Members’ approval.
These rules were introduced to ensure that
commitments of a magnitude and nature to
present a possible significant risk to the club
should be appropriately considered by the
members. The potential risk to the Club’s financial
position comes from the amount actually spent
rather than from the estimate presented at the time
of approval and it is therefore fundamentally
important that there is appropriate accountability
for remaining within defined limits. Is it not
essential that rules 16 (f) and (g) be updated to
cover these issues for future investments and
Can we have a proper toilet on the Struie Course?
Captain – We will look into improving the current
facility but we are still not sure of the routing of
the course in the future.
How are the negotiations on the lease for the
common good land?
Captain – These are ongoing with the Highland
Council and Community Council and a statement
will issued as soon as we have reached a
Will this impact on the costs of the new
Captain – We are quite certain that they won’t.
We have lost basic food like pie and chips, sausage
and chips. I used to spend a lot of time in the
clubhouse when these were on offer. What will the
new clubhouse offer a la carte or basic food?
Any update on a new borehole?
Preferred lies for state of fairways on Struie
Before you all depart, can I thank on your behalf
the Captain and the Council for all the time and
effort they have put in over the last year.
The Captain thanked everyone, closed the meeting
and invited all to the clubhouse for a drink.