ROYAL Dornoch Golf Club personnel hope shared golfing bonds could tee-up a twinning agreement between the town and the Village of Pinehurst.
The recent online celebration to mark the birth 150 years ago of legendary Scottish golf course architect Donald Ross triggered the prospect of strengthening ties between his hometown and “the Cradle of American Golf.”
One-time greens keeper and the first ever professional at his hometown club, Ross designed Pinehurst No.2, a masterpiece which is now the anchor course of the US Open Championship, and more than 400 others across North America.
John Strickland, Mayor of the Village of Pinehurst, believes the communities’ shared Ross legacy and passion for golf offers potential for more formal ties.
He flagged-up the possibility of a town twinning arrangement during online celebrations shared with Royal Dornoch management and Pinehurst guests who included authors responsible for recent books on “golfing pioneer” Ross and his enduring legacy.
Royal Dornoch president Gordon Lawson and general manager Neil Hampton believe a formal twin town arrangement would build on strong ties which already exist with clubs in the Pinehurst area.
Ross, who learned his trade with Old Tom Morris during a spell in St Andrews, left Scotland for a career in the USA in 1899.
His childhood home in St Gilbert Street, and Royal Dornoch Golf Club, have become a place of pilgrimage for American golfers.
Dornoch Provost and community council chairman Paddy Murray joined club president Gordon, past captain Willie MacKay and general manager Neil for the clubhouse trans-Atlantic Zoom call.
Mayor Strickland noted that Pinehurst was regarded as the St Andrews of American golf, with the Ross legacy playing an integral part in the area’s far-reaching reputation.
“There are many well-established links between Royal Dornoch and clubs in the Pinehurst area,” he noted.
“We look forward to seeing how this relationship can grow and develop the connections we enjoy through the game of golf,” he said.
Provost Murray stressed that Dornoch and the Highlands always offered a warm welcome to international visitors, with golf playing a key role in the local economy.
“We are eager to build on this relationship,” said the Provost.
“Following the celebrations marking the birth of Donald Ross here in Dornoch, we would be very open to exploring how we can take this forward.
“Twinning with another great golfing Mecca would be a great honour for us.
“Golf plays a huge part of Dornoch’s economy and its heritage.
“Since the 1980s both the town and the golf club have enjoyed a huge revival, largely due to Americans coming over to play the game.
“This makes a significant economic contribution to the town, providing direct and indirect employment, and helps make Dornoch attractive to other tourists and to the residents.
“It’s fair to say that without Donald Ross, much of this would never have happened.”