As the popularity of Reay Golf Club continues to grow, more local and visiting players are recognising the remarkable transformation the course has undergone in the past year.
In 2018, the course celebrated its 125th anniversary but it also suffered an exceptionally dry summer which resulted in significant damage to the putting surfaces.
Reay is a venue golfing aficionado have on their bucket list, being the most northerly 18-hole links course on the British mainland. It also attracts visitors from across the UK and abroad as a member club of the James Braid Highland Golf Trail and has enjoyed a further, more recent, surge of interest as a result of its location on the hugely popular North Coast 500 tourist route.
Following the damage, and to maintain its reputation and burgeoning popularity, the club embarked on an ambitious programme to recover and improve the greens. A plan was developed with the assistance of professional advice from greens staff based at other links courses throughout the north.
This expert help, coupled with the hard work of the local greenkeeper, James Macadie, ably assisted by members of the club committee and a team of eager volunteers, resulted in the greens being brought back to their best.
The work involved coring, re-seeding and top-dressing of the putting surfaces, along with improvements to the irrigation system associated with the greens. This additional investment should lessen the effects of any future periods of drought, allowing the course to remain playable during all twelve months of the year.
Not content with that, the club plans future work to enhance even further the course for visitors and members alike.
Club Captain Evan Sutherland said: “We are grateful to the membership for their tolerance in sacrificing their golf for most of the season to allow us to pursue a vigorous rescue package.
“I am very proud of the team spirit shown within our club and for the assistance of our greenkeeper in carrying out the massive programme of work required. The response has been truly amazing.”
The new-look greens have drawn some favourable comments from visitors. Toby Ward of the Bighouse Partnership in Thurso said: “The work by the team at Reay has borne excellent results. It is a unique links experience and the work undertaken will only improve its reputation.”
international course designer Donald was also moved to write: “It is a links that is as natural as I have ever seen, in another location it would enjoy worldwide acclaim.”
And Willis Copeland, author of the Independent Golfer guide, said: “It does take an effort to travel north, but Reay certainly repays that effort with a classic links experience. It’s hard to find better.”
Reay Golf Club is also planning for the future in other ways. A cornerstone of its philosophy is the development of the sport through its junior golf programmes and introductory classes for adults looking to take up the game for the first time.
The club offers instruction all year round, delivered by fully trained golf coaches, and it has a 3-hole junior course where youngsters can hone their skills in a welcoming environment.
Further information about the club, including details of flexible membership options, can be found on the Reay Golf club website and Facebook pages.