Former Open champion Paul Lawrie attended the launch at Royal Dornoch Golf Club today of a new academic study ahead of a major landmark for the town.
In 2016 Dornoch will mark four centuries of golf being played in the area with the earliest concrete evidence of the game known to this point dating back to 1616.
However, few records have been explored from the period 1600-1800 and a new project aims to bridge the gap in knowledge in the lead up to the town’s 400 Years of Golf in Dornoch celebrations.
The Royal Dornoch Golf Club has donated £54,000 to the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for History, based in the town, to establish a three-year PhD studentship to investigate the history of sport and culture in Dornoch and wider Moray Firth coastal region during the period.
The subsequent research will be used for an exhibition and a series of public talks, but will also add to the early knowledge of the growth of golf worldwide.
The local community will have access to the progress and some of the results of the study, providing an innovative collaboration, possibly the first of its kind in Scotland.
Details of the project were unveiled today as the Highlands are in the golfing spotlight with the Scottish Open being held this week.
Paul Lawrie said: “Knowing more about the history of our game is of interest to all golfers. The work here at Royal Dornoch with UHI may even show us how to bring new people and children into golf.”
First Minister Alex Salmond, a keen golfer, has given his backing for the project. He said: “Scotland is the home of golf and this academic research will help us understand more about the game’s early history and those who played it. It is that heritage, combined with our wonderful courses, such as Royal Dornoch, that continues to attract people to Scotland to experience the sport at its finest.
“It is only fitting that during this week as some of the world’s best golfers arrive in the Highlands to play in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, this
innovative study is being launched to investigate the area’s golfing past.”