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One of world’s oldest golf courses - Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club - launches vital fundraiser to save links from coastal erosion


By Philip Murray

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Douglas Simpson (president), Tony Story (CEO Kingsmills Hotel Group), Angus Macleod and Mike MacDonald (club manager at Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club). Picture: Callum Mackay.
Douglas Simpson (president), Tony Story (CEO Kingsmills Hotel Group), Angus Macleod and Mike MacDonald (club manager at Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club). Picture: Callum Mackay.

The fight against worsening coastal erosion is set to tee off for a Highland golf club after a major fundraiser for new sea defences was launched.

A special golf day will be held later this year to help Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club as it seeks to raise a six-figure sum to install more rock armour on its eastern shores.

The Black Isle golf club, which extends down towards the Chanonry Point lighthouse, and has the sea to both the east and west of its course, has been battling worsening storm damage in recent years,

Increasingly severe winter weather has caused serious erosion, and the most recent storm season saw the beach erode back to the edge of the first tee.

Storm Ciaran last October proved so damaging that the shore receded by up to five to six metres in places, with “significant sections” of the beach and coastal footpaths washed away. The course’s first and second holes are particularly at threat.

The impact of winter and spring storms on the golf course is obvious in this image or the damage to land next to the first tee.
The impact of winter and spring storms on the golf course is obvious in this image or the damage to land next to the first tee.

It is now seeking to raise £150,000 towards further rock armour to try to protect against further damage.

And, to that end, the major new golf day has been announced which will raise a “guaranteed” £10,000 towards that goal - and possibly a lot more.

The golf day this October is being organised in collaboration with the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness.

Tony Story, CEO of Kingsmills Group is one of the key driving forces behind the event. He explained that the fundraiser was a chance to give back to the course after its long support for many other local causes over the years.

“We have been supported in our charity fundraising by Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club over many years, as have many other local charities,” he said. “When recent weather events caused significant loss of parts of the course, we thought it was time to repay the generosity of the club”

Mr Story, who is a keen golfer himself and a fan of the links course, added: “We are really keen to band together with those who recognise the importance of the club, raising as much as we can to assist with the much needed protection measures to ensure the long term future of this amazing community asset.”

Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Course’s battle with the elements has struck a chord with many a golf fan, thanks in part to its venerable history within the game. The historic links course is the 15th oldest recorded golf club in the world, dating back to 1793. It draws in thousands of visitors from around the world on an annual basis, and is set to play host to the World Hickory Open Championship also taking place in October and has hosted 10 National Championships since 2010.

An aerial shot showing where the sea has been eating into the side of the golf course.
An aerial shot showing where the sea has been eating into the side of the golf course.

Douglas Simpson, president of the club, said the impact of worsening storms poses a real risk to the future of such an important piece of sporting history, adding: “Coastal erosion is the single biggest threat to the future of the Links at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club, particularly when it has progressed so rapidly in the past year. It’s essential that we implement a permanent solution as soon as possible.”

With funding opportunities externally limited, the club have been actively fundraising on a GoFundMe page which to date has raised over £28,000 which has contributed to initial rock armour installed at the first and second tees. The new golf day event is hoped to add a large sum to the total, with a guaranteed £10,000 going directly to the club when the event is fully attended.

The damage to the grass behind the shore is evident even from out to sea.
The damage to the grass behind the shore is evident even from out to sea.

The charity golf day is being held on Friday, October 11 at Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club followed by a fundraising event at the Kingsmills Hotel. After a three-course meal and prizegiving, guests will be treated to a grand auction of incredible golf experiences and entertainment from Torridon’s Kenny Smith and Michael Macmillan.

Teams of four cost £800 and this includes a table of eight at the evening event. Tickets are also available for those wishing to attend the evening event separately. If you wish to join the golf day or the evening event, email melena@kingsmillsgroup.com or for more information, contact Mike at secretary@fortrosegolfclub.co.uk or call 01381 620529.

Tony Story CEO Kingsmills Hotel Group. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Tony Story CEO Kingsmills Hotel Group. Picture: Callum Mackay.

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