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Royal Dornoch Winter Newsletter 2020

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WINTER NEWSLETTER 2020


Front cover and following pages give an

artist’s impression of the new clubhouse

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Captain’s Report

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.

Rob Murray

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

clearer.

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

younger generation.

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.

3


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

so generously.

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

friends.

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.

Rob Murray

Captain

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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

McMurray (again!).

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

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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

about hole!

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

gone down.

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

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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.

Neil Hampton

General Manager

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Finance Convenor’s Report

Overview

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.

Professional Shop

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.

Costs

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

within expectations.

The Future

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

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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

balancing act.

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.

Tony Bartlett

Finance Convenor

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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

achievements.

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

numerous rounds.

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

McNaughton Rosebowl

Ryle Jug

Murray Vase

Cadzow Quaich

Patterson Trophy

Prove Trophy

Paul York Order of Merit

President’s Cup Handicap

President’s Cup Scratch

Struie Club Championship Handicap

Connor Preston

David Fleming

Ernie Millard

Connor Mackay

Stuart Innes & Craig Sutherland

Alastair & Margot Stoddart

Brian Foley

David Pearson

Colin Mackay

Brian Urquhart

David Pearson

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Struie Club Championship Scratch

Club Championship Handicap

Club Championship Scratch

Craig Sutherland

Bryan Urquhart

Chris Mailley

Congratulations to all the prize winners and best wishes to all club members for golfing success in the

forthcoming season.

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:

Carnegie Shield

Davidson Trophy

E C Fraser Cup

Sinclair Cup

Fraser Shield

Gardner Trophy

Robbie Grant Seniors

Duncan Murray Quaich

Macleod 7 Club Trophy

Burghfield 3 Man Team

G K Mackay

Glenmorangie Open

Chris Mailley

Gareth Roberts (Hindhead)

Colin Mackay

David Corben (Hindhead)

Allyn Dick (Kingsfield)

David Horrocks

Ernie Millard

Paul York

Hoyt Tessener (North Ridge)

Chris Mailley, John Gow & Paul Mailley (Dunbar)

David Pearson & Derek MacDougall

Gareth Hall

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.

Andrew Skinner

Head Professional

11


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

great views.

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.

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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

Aitchison.

Adrian Bagott

Greens Convenor

13


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 clubhouse.

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

February (Bus)

A Night with Ronan Rafferty Saturday 15 th

February

Curry Night on Saturday 22 nd February (Bus)

Leap Year Ladies Choice Gin Tasting Saturday 29 th

February

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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

Clubhouse.

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

Clubhouse.

John McMurray

House Convenor

15


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 &

fitness!

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

manner.

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

16


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

in 2020”.

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

Carnoustie Links.

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.

17


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

it all.

Team Europe

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

weekend.

Ian Lagowitz with Hannah Riddell

18

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

Trophy

Alex Lagowitz award

Caddies Cup

Girls Champ Trophy

Ken Natsusaka Cup

A. Reeves Memorial

R. McCulloch Shield

Katie Sutherland

Eclectic Trophy

Eclectic Trophy

Eclectic Trophy

John Gordon Medal

Section

All Junior Sections

“A” Section 1st Scratch

“A” Section 1st Scratch

1st Handicap

“B+” Section

“B” Section

‘A’ Boys Eclectic

‘A’ Girls Eclectic

B+ Boys

B Boys

B Girls

Most Improved Golfer

Winner

Hannah Riddell

Max Hampton

Rhianna MacKay

Alex Innes

Kieran Allan

Mary Mcfall

John Leslie

Hannah Riddell

Kieran Allan

Liam Vass

Erin Holden

John Leslie

2019 Competition Results

Competition

Robert Murray Adult/Junior

Rainbow Trophy

Thomson Trophy

Burnett Cup

Hans Burkhard

Skinner Competition A/B

Donald Ross Open – Peter De Savary Trophy

Donald Ross Open – Provost Trophy

Winner

Neil Leslie & John Leslie

Ben Dingwall

Rhianna Mackay

Mary McFall

Max Hampton

John Leslie & Alistair Matheson

Alex Innes

Zara Macdonald

19


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.”

Willie MacKay

Vice Captain

Alex Innes

Zara

MacDonald

20

Max Hampton

with Hans

Burkhard Cup


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

Dornoch.

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

Marketing.

Cara Thompson

Marketing Convenor

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.

21


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

to 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.

22


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

the range.

That’s it for now, feel free to contact Brad or myself with

thoughts or suggestions.

Ian Madeley

Retail Convenor

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!

23


President’s Report

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

appreciated.

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

24


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.

Gordon Lawson

President

25


Ladies Section

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

ladies.

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

weather.

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.

26


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

day away.

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.

Norma Fleming

Ladies Captain

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

27


Senior Section

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

similar popularity!

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):

Stuart McAllister;

Seniors Spring Meeting (May Medal):

Jim Campbell;

Willie MacDonald Quaich (Senior Handicap):

Stuart Sim;

Barry Watson Quaich (H’cap Matchplay):

Jim Seatter;

The Bartlett Cup (Scr. Matchplay):

Stuart McAllister.

28


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

member.

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

Roger Boyce

Senior Section Secretary

29


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

positions!

Norma graciously presented the prizes & trophies

and stoically withstood many geriatric embraces.

As usual we all retired mellow and happy.

John S Logan

30


The results for the season:

Competition Winner Runner Up

Spring Mixed Greensomes

Cancelled

J T Robertson Cup

Geir Thomassen

Don MacKay

Jim Seatter Rosebowl

Don MacKay

Ian Irwin

Macleod Thomson Targes

Geir Thomassen

Graeme Miller

Don MacKay

Alistair Fleming

Niall Curry Trophy

Frank Gerstenberg

Keith Henry

Patterson Salver Foursomes

Tom Dingwall

Bill Orr

Stuart Shaw

Ray Bower

Heritage 5 Club

Mike Thomas

Lindsay MacDonald

John Green Quaich

David MacLean

Sander MacDonald

Peter Monk Trophy

Mike Thomas

J N Patterson Quaich

Graeme Miller

Ian Irwin

K W Milne Whisky Greensomes

Ian Innes

Willie MacKay

Stuart Shaw

Ray Bower

Archie Forbes Trophy

Ian Irwin

Allan McKillop

Martin Steeves Trophy

David Offin

Graeme Miller

Qualifying Appearances – 15

For trophies below

Winner

Runner-up

Hugh Steele Trophy

Hugh Anderson

David Offin

Overall Winner

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

Dingwall Trophy

(Most Appearances)

W E Skinner Quaich Highest Average

J N Patterson Eclectic Trophy Eclectic

Willie Skinner Ray Bower

Hugh Anderson John Calder

Billy MacKay

Stuart Shaw

David Offin

Andy Marshall

Keith Henry

Graeme Miller

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’

Winner of

A&B Groups

Hugh Anderson

John Calder

31


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.

32


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

supporters.

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.

Scott Aitchison

Deputy Course Manager

33


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

Members

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

dealt with.

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

of Captaincy.”

6. Election of Vice President

2. Apologies for absence

19 received prior to the meeting, 1 received at the

meeting

3. Approval of Minutes

Minutes of 2018 AGM (circulated previously).

Proposed by Rob Murray and Seconded by John

McMurray.

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.

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7. Election of Members of the Council of

Management

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

the club:

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

for listening.”

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

35


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

Council.

8. Statement and Adoption of Accounts for the

year 2018/2019

The Finance Convener, Mr A.D. Bartlett told the

meeting that he would first comment on the

36


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

budget.

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

projections.

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

ambitions.

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.

37


David Robertson

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

Ashley Rose

Plans to have solid bases in some bunkers has not

happened?

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.

Douglas Martin

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.

38


Daniel Holden

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

aerodrome.

Point taken and we will look into it.

Stuart McAllister

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.

Willie MacKay

There has been good work done and we have a

magnificent hole. Do the members agree?

Sue Smith

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.

Daniel Holden

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.

Ashley Rose

The current line of the GUR does not reflect

where the edge of the new fairway will be.

This was confirmed.

39


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

proposals.

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

40


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

8.21pm.

The Captain then opened the forum for members

to bring up items for the Council of Management

to consider.

Nick Harding

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

funding requirements?

41


Catherine Bryce

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.

Brian Laughland

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

conclusion.

Brian Laughland

Will this impact on the costs of the new

clubhouse?

Captain – We are quite certain that they won’t.

42


Alan Farrar

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?

Ashley Rose

Any update on a new borehole?

John Logan

Preferred lies for state of fairways on Struie

Course?

Gordon Lawson

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.

43

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