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Finding its place in history

Royal Dornoch has invested in PhD studentship to look at historical records

WHILE those  in charge of the game continue to tell us they are looking to the future and the different ways to grow the game around the world,  Royal Dornoch Golf Club are hoping that looking back into the past may reveal much about the club and the town’s place in golfing history.

Historical research may not be high on the list of priorities of the vast majority of clubs as it can prove a costly expenditure but with the 400th anniversary of golf being played in Dornoch approaching in 2016, the club has donated £54,000 in an attempt to further clarify its place in history.

The earliest evidence of the game in the region dates back to 1616 but few records have been explored from the period 1600-1800, so Royal Dornoch Golf Club has donated the money to establish a three-year PhD studentship to investigate the history of sport and culture in Dornoch and the wider Moray Firth coastal region during this period.

Both Paul Lawrie and First Minister Alex Salmond gave their backing to the project, with Lawrie highlighting the interest that will be created and the positive impact it could have on the future of the game.

“Knowing more about the history of our game is of interest to all golfers,” said the 1999 Open champion. “The work here at Royal Dornoch with UHI may even show us how to bring new people and children into golf.”

The club was first formed in 1877, and Dornoch has now been a Royal club for over 100 years, meaning it maintains exceptionally high standards with its championship course consistently ranked amongst the top 20 of the world’s top 100 courses.

Neil Hampton, Royal Dornoch Golf Club’s general manager, added: “Dornoch takes great pride in its history and heritage, being one of the oldest clubs in Scotland. Finding out more about this important period will help us better understand the history and how we were involved in helping to spread the game of golf around the world.

“We know golf is a big economic driver for the town today. It brings in lots of people and money and helps make it such a vibrant place. It will be interesting to know how far back this association goes and the extent to which it has driven the economy of Dornoch, helping the town grow and prosper over the years.”

The research for this project will start in September, when Canadian Wade Cormack will arrive to stay in Dornoch for the three-year duration. Cormack, who is a keen golfer, had previously studied a  MA in Scottish History at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

“I believe this is a very important project for the golf club because it will be able to use the research to celebrate the longevity of the game of golf in the area, build their prestige as being one of the oldest golfing centres, and promote the game as a continual historical pastime of the Scottish people” said Cormack.

“For Dornoch, I believe that 400 Years of Golf project will give them yet another reason to be proud of their town and their heritage. This project will help uncover the foundations of the game, and answer more questions about who played, where they played and what it was like.”

To cover the investment, the club is seeking sponsorship from members, with all those who donate receiving exclusive access to online progress reports, updates and the final report.

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