Will it be a Highland fling at the 2017 Scottish Golf Awards as a Ross-shire club, which has experienced one of its most successful years yet, takes a shot at being crowned the best in the country?
The Award – sponsored by Club Systems International and HowDidiDo – will be contested by The Blairgowrie Golf Club, Kingsfield Golf Centre, Muir of Ord Golf Club and Mearns Castle Golf Academy. A superb prize of £3,000 is at stake, a sum split between the sponsors and Scottish Golf.
For Muir of Ord, their application itself continues their good work in 2016. Their bid has been made by club manager John Forbes, club captain Allan D Pollock and marketing convenor Hamish Milne as they seek to win the coveted title at the showpiece event at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange on Friday 24 February.
The trio believe that 2016 was one of the most successful years in the club’s history, which dates back to 1875.
The club has 661 members (drawn from a wide area including the city of Inverness), is managed by a 12-strong council of management and recently attracted 37 new members from an Open Day and a recruitment drive at a university event. Indeed, this year the club has liaised closely with Scottish Golf Club Development Officer (North) Willie MacKay, who has provided guidance on a number of matters, including the Open Day, an overall Development Plan and a survey of the membership for feedback on all areas of the club.
In short, last year the club turned a deficit of £12,000 into a profit of £15,000, to provide a stable future economic position. Four new tee sponsors, six new competition sponsors and sponsors for advertising banners have been recruited, bringing in a total of £2,500.
“No club can survive without a positive contribution from its staff and in that regard our staff have excelled through 2016,” says the club’s nomination.
The club marketing convener has also embarked on an initiative to create the ‘James Braid – North of Scotland Trail’ and website involving six other local courses, which have been wholly or partly designed by Braid.
“It is envisaged through this form of advertising, which will potentially be viewed worldwide, a heightened awareness of James Braid designed golf courses will materialise and again bring more golfers not only to our club in particular but to the Highlands in general,” adds their nomination.
“Working in partnership with these six other clubs has improved contact and working relationships with their respective management teams and can only help in the promotion of golf in the Highlands.”
Junior golfers have proved to be a tremendous asset to Muir of Ord over many years. Many who participated in the ClubGolf national programme have advanced to become full members. In 2016, over 20 juniors recruited from local schools attended weekly coaching sessions.
The club celebrated a number of successes last year, including the triumph of the club’s junior team of Ben Cowie, Sam Cowie, Robbie Macrae, along with senior member Duncan Bethune, who won the Scottish Junior Open at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club.
Club member David Paterson, who is registered blind, also qualified to represent Scotland and was the only member of the team to win all four of his matches against England and Wales. With a club website endorsement to come from Scotland’s leading player, Russell Knox, yes it’s been an all-round season of success for Muir of Ord.