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Muir of Ord Golf Club post-lockdown membership drive scores with newcomers and returnees

By Hector MacKenzie

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President Kenny MacGruer, Centre,Ciaran Melens and right Dawn Cowie.
President Kenny MacGruer, Centre,Ciaran Melens and right Dawn Cowie.

AN award-winning Ross-shire golf club bunkered like all others at the height of the coronavirus crisis is now on a roll with a flurry of new recruits and lapsed players turning to the sport.

The relative ease of social distancing combined with vast expanses of outdoor space has afforded golf clubs the opportunity to bounce back quicker than many other operations – and none more so than Muir of Ord.

Ninety-one new members have already signed up, among them 10 juniors and 35 players in the 18-30 group.

The surge has surpassed the wildest dreams of club managers looking to boost income after a fallow few months.

The flurry began the day golf’s return was approved, many from folk unable to work but determined to keep active.

Club manager John Forbes said: “It was amazing. As soon as we started playing golf again, people couldn’t join quickly enough. Some were returning after a few years out, but many just wanted to get back to exercising – and there is no better way to do that than walking round a course in immaculate condition with some tremendous scenery to enjoy.”

The club has lined up a number of special offers and expects to reward the lucky 100th new member with a special gift to celebrate.

Marc MacLachlan (28)plays shinty for Lovat and was tempted back on the green, earning a handicap of 14. He is hugely impressed with the way the club is run. He said: "I was brought up in Ballachulish where I first started to play golf on the nine-hole course there. I moved with my parents to Muir of Ord 14 years ago but didn’t join the local golf club at that time as I was more interested in shinty. I play for Lovat but just now with the pandemic and restrictions on contact sport, shinty has had to take a back seat so having played golf in the past and had the odd game at Muir of Ord, I decided to take the plunge and join.

"I have a number of friends who are members there but being competitive, I wanted to get a handicap and join them in playing competitions. Although I only joined in June my handicap is now 14 which I hope to reduce during what’s left of the season. Joining was an easy process and the membership offers available made it a simple decision. The course is in fantastic condition and a credit to the greenstaff who put in a power of work. The club is very well run and there is always a friendly atmosphere around the place. I would recommend Muir of Ord to anyone wanting to take up the game.”

Dawn Cowie (22), who works with the Archie Foundation, is able to play with partner Alisdair Sutherland, who plays football for Rothes and is also a Muir member.

She said: “I belong to Helmsdale where I played a bit of golf when in school. I now stay in Inverness where I work with the Archie Foundation. My partner Alisdair Sutherland plays football for Rothes and also joined Muir of Ord. By coincidence the apprentice greenkeeper there also plays for Rothes. I wanted to get back to playing golf so the obvious choice was to join Muir of Ord.

"It allows me spend more time with Alisdair as we are both out at work during the day. I am really loving it. The course is fantastic and the scenery is really great. I don’t have a handicap as yet but that certainly doesn’t stop me from playing or enjoying my golf. The club has been so welcoming and although I am “just in the door” when I approached the Club Manager about the possibility of running an event in aid of the Archie Foundation he didn’t hesitate and it is now up and running! I couldn’t wish for a more enjoyable place to play.”

Related: Muir greenkeeper hailed 'king of kings'

Membership drive teed up as club comes out of lockdown

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