In 1906, through the influence of Her Grace the Duchess of Sutherland, Duchess Millicent, a good friend to the Club, Dornoch Golf Club secured the title and dignity of ‘Royal’ from King Edward VII.
In 1901 Mr. Andrew Carnegie presented a splendid silver Shield for open competition at Dornoch. Right from the start the August meeting, with the Shield as the main trophy, drew prominent golfers from far and wide to Dornoch Links. Notable golfing names have been inscribed upon the bosses of its silvery surface: Ernest Holderness, Charles E. Dick, Roger Wethered, J. Gordon Simpson, as well as local Dornoch names. Even today when many other great trophies are so numerous, the Royal Dornoch Carnegie Shield continues its magnetic lure as widely as ever.
Women golfers, also of a high level, regularly foregathered in Dornoch in the bright days before 1914; Lily Morrison of Dornoch; Madge Maitland, Elie, Fife; May Thomson and Ruth Thomson, Edinburgh; Joyce Spurling, London; and the peerless Joyce Wethered, are known world-wide.
The Second World War saw an aerodrome in being on the Ladies 18 hole course on the lower links and 4 holes of the championship course were lost. In the late 1940’s the decision was taken to construct further holes out towards Embo and once again the House of Sutherland helped by leasing the land (later purchased) to the Club. This was largely the work of George Duncan for John Sutherland had died in 1941. A restricted 9 hole relief course was formed known as the Struie. This has now been developed to a full 18 holes.
Dornoch is far from the main centers of population and so has never been host to the most widely advertised national championships. Nevertheless it has hosted through the years the Northern Open; the Scottish Ladies; and the Scottish Professional Championships. Improved transport systems have helped international golfers and a stream of personalities visit the Club and their praise is unstinting. Tom Watson headed North in 1981, the year after winning the third of five Open Championships at Muirfield. He arrived to play 18 holes, but had three rounds and ‘the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course’. Tom Watson, now an Honorary Member of the Club, returned before the 1996 Open at Lytham and his view of the course has not changed. Other Honorary members are HRH Prince Andrew and Ben Crenshaw and more recent celebrities to visit the course include such notables as Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Mark Brooks and many personalities from other sports and the entertainment world.