Main image: Provost Patrick Murray is flanked by witness and Highland councillor Jim McGillivray (left) and Mayor John Strickland at the signing ceremony in the old Council Chambers in Dornoch. Pic: Matthew Harris
A SHARED golfing heritage is paving the way for closer ties between Dornoch and Pinehurst, which has been hailed “The Cradle of American Golf.”
The town, of course, was the birthplace of renowned golf course architect Donald Ross, a “keeper of the greens” who was appointed Royal Dornoch Golf Club’s first professional before emigrating to the USA in his mid-twenties.
In a ceremony held at the town’s one-time Council Chambers, Patrick Murray, Provost of Dornoch Community Council, and John Strickland, Mayor of the Village of Pinehurst in North Carolina, signed a formal agreement designed to honour Ross and strengthen the links between the two communities.
In “providing awareness and tourism opportunities surrounding the sport of golf, the history of golf course architecture and the work of Donald Ross,” there will be opportunities for Dornoch’s award-winning Historylinks Museum and the celebrated Tufts Archives in Pinehurst to co-operate under the banner “Donald Ross: Birthplace to Workplace.”
The agreement has been welcomed by Neil Hampton, general manager at Royal Dornoch.
“It seems a natural fit between two famous golfing communities and I look forward to seeing how it develops in the years ahead,” he said.
“We welcome many American members and guests, some of whom are members here and in Pinehurst. We also enjoy a long-standing relationship with the Country Club of North Carolina, which is located in Pinehurst.
“It would be marvellous if this formalised relationship creates spin-off benefits for both towns.”
The Village of Pinehurst and the Pinehurst Resort have been selected by the United States Golf Association as the site of the USGA’s second headquarters and as the first Anchor Site for the US Open championship.
Course #2 is regarded as the pioneering Scot’s masterpiece.
It hosts the US Open next year and, going forward, the course will feature regularly on the rota.
The agreement envisages the towns working in tandem with their world-famous golf clubs to promote environmentally friendly golf and sustainable golf tourism through ties with the USGA, The R&A, The Donald Ross Society and The Tin Whistles, which is the oldest continuous men’s golfing society in the USA.
Provost Murray said: “It is early days but I believe there is huge potential in fostering stronger ties between Dornoch and Pinehurst.
“It is a fantastic honour to be invited to have this relationship with Pinehurst, which is regarded as ‘The Cradle of American Golf.’
“Both parties, on either side of the Atlantic, are keen to take this relationship forward.
“We share a reputation as celebrated golfing magnets and, of course, the links are built on the bonds shared with Donald Ross.
“From our perspective, this relationship can only benefit the town and the business community.”
Mayor Strickland, who recalls hearing stories from his father and grandfather of golfing with the legendary architect at Pinehurst, noted: “This agreement follows hard on the heels of the celebrations last year to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Donald Ross in Dornoch.
“Mr Ross is a revered figure in the history of American golf, not just at Pinehurst which was his home for nearly 50 years until his death in 1948, but across North America, where he left a legacy of more than 400 courses.
“Our two communities and golf clubs are bound together by the Donald Ross thread.
“I believe he is better known in America than in Scotland. Hopefully we can help change that.
“He was invited to Pinehurst from Massachusetts in 1900 by the Tufts family and he lived and worked from there until his death at the age of 75.
“Having played the wonderful Championship Course during this visit, I have seen for myself how his architecture was influenced by the topography and subtleties of Royal Dornoch.
“We are proud to be regarded as America’s ‘Home of Golf’ and two new USGA offices will be completed later this year on the Pinehurst Resort, which is blessed with four courses Mr Ross was involved with.
“The USGA also recently acquired the ‘US Golf Hall of Fame’ memorabilia which they will bring to Pinehurst for their new museum, and we have an extensive archive dating back to 1895 which includes original drawings of Mr Ross’s golf courses.”
Provost Murray and Mayor Strickland are keen to see the Historylinks Museum and the Tufts Archives share their resources.
“The main two themes here are obviously the golf, and the potential for a relationship between Pinehurst and the Historylinks Museum, which is looking forward to work getting under way on an eagerly awaited extension,” said Provost Murray.
“Our museum has a wealth of information and photographs of Donald Ross which are of interest to Pinehurst, and also of the town in the 19th and 20th Centuries when he was growing up here and working at the golf club.”