Dornoch is probably most widely known for its connection with the sport of golf. The first written record of golf
being played in the town is from 1616, which makes it the third oldest golf links in Scotland after St Andrews and
Leith. In 1630, Dornoch's links were recorded as "the fairest and largest links in Scotland, fitt for archery,
goffing, ryding and all other exercise".
At that time golf was an informal game and it wasn't until 1877 that the Dornoch Golf Club was founded. The course
consisted of just nine holes but the club invited the great Tom Morris from St Andrews to come and improve them, and
then three years later extend the course to a full eighteen holes.
At the turn of the twentieth century the development of a new faster, rubber-cored golf ball meant that the course
had to be redesigned and for a time Dornoch was the 5th longest golf course in the whole of Britain. In 1901 the
famous industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (who owned nearby Skibo Castle) presented the club with
the Carnegie Shield which is still played for today in an annual competition.
In 1906 the Duchess of Sutherland asked King Edward the Seventh to grant the club a Royal Charter and so it became
Royal Dornoch Golf Club. This increase in prestige saw a marked growth in the club's membership and its reputation
spread across the world.
Dornoch's Championship Course is today rated 5th in the world outside the United States. Its technical difficulty
presents repeated and fresh challenges to even the most experienced player and its scenic surroundings make it one
of the most special courses to play.
One of Dornoch's most famous sons is also closely associated with golf. Donald Ross was born in a cottage in
St Gilbert Street. He worked as a greenkeeper on the Dornoch Links course before emigrating to the United States.
There, he was responsible for the design of hundreds of golf courses including some of the most famous courses
in the country.