In 1933 when our records began, Charlie Mackenzie was Secretary and his immaculate penmanship records the deliberations of the meetings together with his own report. Charlie gives us a hole by hole guided tour of the course indicating the work carried out during the year and what still remained to be done, all written in a most entertaining literary style.
The most contentious discussion at the 1933 AGM centred on proposals to increase annual subscriptions by 5 shillings to £1-5/- and to make a levy of 3d on each competitor taking part in the monthly medal, the first proposal being defeated and the latter carried. But only for a month. The committee obviously didn’t approve of the 3d levy so they called an extraordinary general meeting to reconsider the matter and the decision was rescinded. The committee got their way – nothing changes.
Coming events were even then casting their shadows. The Club consented to a three-year agreement with the Stornoway Trust that the tidal flats adjoining the course be used as a landing ground for aeroplanes “provided that the landing ground didn’t encroach on the ground utilised for the playing of the game of golf”.
The Club was not a course-owning club, the course being laid out on the common grazings of Melbost and Steinish, and despite discretionary rates of membership being allowed to the crofters, relationships between them and the Club were not always harmonious. There was a steady flow of correspondence between the grazings committees and the Club Secretary down through the years complaining of misdemeanours, real or imaginary, on the part of the golfers – crossing fences and trespassing on the course of the members’ dogs and/or the Greenkeeper’s dog and much more. In retaliation, perhaps, the committee intimated their intention of fencing off the greens to prevent damage by cattle, thus depriving the poor beasts of the lushest feeding on the course.
An application by Highland Airways Ltd in 1935 for the use of the second fairway for one week to hold an “air propaganda display” was acceded to. Perhaps the sweetener offered by the company of 5 per cent of the gate money was an incentive since an earlier request by Scottish and Midland Air Ferries had been refused. This was the thin end of the wedge, for in 1936, at the insistence of the Stornoway Trust, the Land Court issued an order resuming 140 acres of the Steinish part of the course for the purpose of creating a landing ground for aeroplanes. Despite this, the Club proceeded with an intensive programme of improvements. It was not until 1939 that construction of the airfield was begun and the Club was faced with the loss of seven greens. Nothing daunted, the committee and Greenkeeper re-designed the course to accommodate new holes on the ground remaining to the Club and a programme of reconstruction was embarked upon, it being unforeseen that eventually their efforts would be of no avail.
The reconstructed course was ready for play in May 1940. In the same month, the Local Defence Volunteers requisitioned the ladies’ locker room. In August the RAF arrived on the airfield and in December the Club’s activities were suspended. A Special Committee of seven members, elected from those over military age, was appointed to look after the financial and other business of the Club during the suspension period, it being clear that never again would golf be played on the course.
The course at Stornoway Golf Club is set amongst the woodlands of Lews Castle and rises out of these towards the moorlands to the west of the town. An undulating landscape presents the golfer with a course that demands a keen shot-making ability and a canny judgement of distances.
Stornoway Golf Club
Lady Lever Park
Isle of Lewis
Tel: 01851 702240