Quaich strengthens historic ties between Dornoch and Wick golf clubs
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Golfing ties between Wick and Dornoch dating back to the 19th century have been strengthened further by the donation of a new trophy.
The John Sutherland Quaich, presented by Royal Dornoch Golf Club, will be contested annually among Wick members.
The silverware commemorates the former Royal Dornoch secretary who was hugely influential in the development of golf in the north of Scotland and far beyond.
Royal Dornoch captain Willie Mackay handed over the quaich in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Wick Golf Club, which was founded in 1870.
The pandemic delayed the formal handover for two years but a team from Royal Dornoch came over the Ord recently to mark the occasion, with Wick recording a 3-2 win in a friendly competition.
Mr Mackay observed that, while records show golf has been played on the links at Dornoch since 1616, the town council gave formal permission for the sport to be played on the shoreline in 1877.
The Sutherland Golf Society at Dornoch links was created seven years after the Wick club, the oldest in the Highlands.
A teenage John Sutherland took over as secretary at the then Dornoch Golf Club in 1883 and continued in post for 58 years until 1941.
In presenting the memorial trophy, Mr Mackay said: “In 1906, John travelled north and spent two days laying out this classic, very natural, traditional Scottish links golf course at Reiss.”
Sutherland, who also served as town clerk, was also responsible for inviting Tom Morris to Dornoch to enhance the links. He taught the celebrated US golf course architect Donald Ross to play the game, and he was integral in putting the town on the tourist map in the Edwardian era.
Research by Wick historian Roy Mackenzie has uncovered connections between the two clubs dating back to the 1880s.
Various Dornoch golfers were country members and competitors at Reiss when it was a nine-hole course, with Sutherland winning the annual medal in 1891.
Mr Mackenzie highlighted the influential role of the Dornoch secretary in marketing and developing golf in the north of Scotland. He penned various press articles extolling the virtues of golf at Wick.
When Lady Louisa Duff-Dunbar of Ackergill and Hempriggs offered to fund the extension to 18 holes in 1906, Sutherland was commissioned to redesign the course.
“Wick professional and greenkeeper Tom Jameson implemented the plans and in July 1907 the redesigned course was formally opened by Lady Duff-Dunbar in front of 200 guests,” Mr Mackenzie explained.
“This was followed by an exhibition match between John Sutherland and Thomas E Green of Royal Dornoch which the latter player won.
“In 1908, a new, eye-catching clubhouse was built on Reiss links which set the standard for golf facilities in the north, and a couple of years later Royal Dornoch Golf Club became the standard bearer with a fine course and a new two-storey clubhouse.”
A prominent new John Sutherland sign has been installed at the turn-off to Wick Golf Club from the A99.