Highlands & Islands

Western Isles golf club with no course holds mainland contest

Eriskay
Image caption A beach behind the club's original course has associations with Bonnie Prince Charlie

A golf club with no course of its own is to hold a new competition on greens 300 miles (482.8km) away.

Eriskay Golf Club was launched in 1994 on the island of Eriskay in the Western Isles.

Members played on a six-hole course created on croft land until 1997 when a house was built on the course.

In the last 16 years, the club has played at other courses. This year it affiliated itself to Tain where the new competition will be played on Sunday.

Previously, club members played at Taynuilt in Argyll. Getting there from Eriskay involved a 200-mile (321.8km) round trip and 10 hours on a ferry.

Play later switched to Torvean Golf Club in Inverness.

Eriskay's club has 50 members and celebrates the island's links with Whisky Galore, a 1940s book by Compton MacKenzie that was inspired by real life events.

Image caption Football legend Kenny Dalglish opened a controversial island course in 2008

Later adapted for film, the story was written following the grounding of a ship carrying whisky.

The SS Politician, which was carrying more than 250,000 bottles of the spirit, got into difficulty off Eriskay on 5 February 1941.

The cargo ship was headed for Jamaica when it ran aground on the northern side of the island in bad weather.

The golf club's new competition, the Bonnie Prince Charlie Shield, takes its name from Prince Charles Edward Stuart. From a French ship, the prince landed on a beach behind the club's original course during the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

Willie Rusk, a co-founder of the club, said steps had been taken this year to have it properly recognised as an official club.

He said: "Our members were keen to develop the club as a fully-operational golf club, so that's exactly what we have done.

"We have now affiliated with the Scottish Golf Union, have prepared a full range of competitions for our members during 2013 and are now authorised to administer our members' handicaps."

Legal fight

Eriskay is not the only island golf club with an interesting story.

In 2008, Scottish football legend Kenny Dalglish officially opened a refurbished golf course on South Uist.

Askernish Golf Club plays a course said to have been originally designed by four-times Open championship winner Old Tom Morris in 1892.

The opening ceremony was staged amid a row between the club and seven crofters. The crofters were opposed to an extension of the course onto land they used for grazing livestock.

The dispute was resolved the following year.

Two years ago, another club won its legal fight to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Western Isles Licensing Board had twice refused applications from Stornoway Golf Club to serve alcohol with Sunday lunches.

Following a court hearing in Inverness, Acting Sheriff Charles Stoddart overturned the board's refusal of a drinks licence.

The club wanted to increase income at weekends. However, it was still barred from allowing golf to be played on the Sabbath.

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