IT was the first time The R&A Women’s and Men’s Senior Amateur Championships had been hosted concurrently by the same golf club.
But it was a test the team at Royal Dornoch passed with flying colours.
Unrelenting winds over four days of competition ensured challenging conditions for competitors on The Championship Course and The Struie.
American Mike McCoy (59), from Des Moines – like last year’s winner and good friend Gene Elliott – captured the Men’s title while Canadian Terrill Samuel (61) was crowned Women’s champion.
Mike’s bag was late in arriving and he had to call upon brand new clubs and a borrowed putter for the first two rounds!
“We have enjoyed some great feedback from competitors and The R&A, which has been nice,” said Neil Hampton, general manager at Royal Dornoch.
“All in all, we are delighted how the Championships went off, particularly as we were entering uncharted territory in welcoming both events in the same week.
“It showed it can be done successfully going forward.
“A great deal of groundwork went in at the planning stage, working closely with the R&A. That served us in good stead and the staff here really stepped up to the plate over the week.
“The players enjoyed the two events running in tandem and there was a marvellous atmosphere in and around the clubhouse over the course of the week.
“Both champions, in their acceptance speeches, remarked how successful it had been holding the Women’s and Men’s championships at the same time. They enjoyed the mix.
“Mike and Terrill were certainly worthy winners. We had been hoping for a breeze but at times it was much stronger than we’d have wanted in an ideal world.
“Mike’s 69 on the Thursday was a tremendous score given the conditions. We had a suspension on the Wednesday but the wind hadn’t really relented 24 hours later.
“I’m not surprised he felt it was one of his best ever rounds of golf.
“It was interesting to note that the lowest scores posted over the week were on the Championship Course, emphasising what members have long known – The Struie is a fun but challenging golf course in its own right.
“There was a 66 and a 67 on the Championship but the best on The Struie was a 69, despite being over 400 yards of a difference for the men.
“Players were coming off saying it was a proper golf course and giving it the big thumbs-up. I’m sure the word will be spreading far and wide given we had a truly international, 288-strong field here.
“I’m especially delighted for Eoin Riddell and his greenkeeping team, who have worked hard over recent years to present The Struie in fine condition and more in line with the Championship Course.
“The message is certainly getting out there that we have two fine golf courses here at Royal Dornoch and that is helping spread the load on the Championship Course.
“With no tee-times available to visitors on the Championship Course this summer we are seeing golfers come specifically to play The Struie.
“It’s no longer a course classed as a secret gem and that is what we have been after.”
Royal Dornoch is now looking forward to hosting next year’s Vagliano Trophy and the Junior Vagliano.
Infrastructure being dismantled at Royal Dornoch in the wake of a successful double bill