'Very special place' has global appeal
NEW figures this week highlighted the impact of Brora Golf Club on the local community, such is the continued worldwide appeal of the renowned Highland links.
One of the prolific designer James Braid courses, Brora continues to thrive through record visitor numbers from across the globe and a growing membership.
To date this year, 6500 visitors have flocked to the links course, coming from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, the Bahamas, the US and European countries. Many visitors stay and eat and drink in the east of Sutherland village, providing significant economic impact to a population of only 1200 inhabitants.
Given Brora is ranked as one of the top links courses in the UK and being highly praised by the legendary Tom Watson as "a wonderful links golf course", the appeal for guests to the venue and the coastal holiday village is obvious.
Club president Andy Stewart said: "Brora Golf Club is a very special place and I believe the impact the golf course has on the local area has grown significantly in the last few years.
"We are attracting record numbers of visitors.
"These visitors are spending money on food, beverage and accommodation which brings much needed money into the local economy and supports businesses and jobs.
"Many of these businesses in Brora reciprocate through sponsorship within the golf club.
"Brora is increasingly accessible with new flights into Inverness from the UK and across Europe, as well as improved road and rail connections, and we know visitors love coming here."
The club, established in 1891, also now employs more than 20 members of staff and is one of the largest employers in the village after Clynelish Distillery.
Bucking national trends, membership at Brora is also up by nine per cent across all categories over the last 12 months – reflecting the local appetite for the course and the international market. Boasting a total membership of 583 individuals, international membership has grown to 82 as the club continues to help put the Highlands on the world map.
More than 40 golfers have also taken up Highland membership, which offers members of any other Highland golf club to also be a member at Brora for a reduced fee.
"It is fair to say that there are limited opportunities for young people in the area," added Andy. "The golf club has grown to be one of the larger employers in the region and is committed to providing staff with a great place to work, so we are grateful to have the dedicated staff we have."
Part of the 'Magnificent Seven' golf clubs that form The James Braid Highland Golf Trail, starting at Boat of Garten in the south to Reay in the far north, Brora is only an hour from Inverness by car.
The club is also part of the Dornoch Firth Golf Pass, together with Royal Dornoch championship and Struie courses, Tain and Golspie. For the first time, the pass brings together five of the Highland's finest courses to offer an easy to book card for visitors.
Brora boasts a proud history and enjoys a notable link with five-time Open champions – from Braid, who redesigned the course in 1923, to honorary members Watson and the recently deceased Peter Thomson.