Meetings of the Special Committee were infrequent and took place in various locations in the town. If the meetings were infrequent, they were effective, for as early as 1943 steps were being taken to formulate claims against the Air Ministry for compensation.
In this, the Club was guided by Edwin Aldred, Factor to the Stornoway Trust (the Trust also being claimants against the Air Ministry). They pursued the claim through the Land Court and in 1946 an award of £9,600 was made to cover the cost of the construction of an 18 hole course and a clubhouse. An extraordinary general meeting was called to regularise the position of the Special Committee, to augment its numbers, and to allow it to be given powers to negotiate on behalf of the Club. The Trust had indicated that they intended to allot ground within the Castle Policies as the site for the new course, and although there were suggestions that alternative sites at Vatisker and Barvas be considered – nostalgia perhaps for a links course – they were discounted as being too remote from Stornoway to attract a sufficient membership. The Trust then empowered the new committee to enter into negotiations for the construction of an 18 hole course, the cost not to exceed £6,500. The contract was awarded to John R. Stutt of Paisley. Construction commenced in July 1946 and completed in October 1947.
The original course differed greatly from the 18 hole circuit we play today. Four holes were located in the area beyond the back road to Marybank Lodge, known as the Meadows, but ground conditions were so poor that these holes had to be abandoned along with the Heather and Memorial holes. The course thus reverted to 12 holes with 6 holes being played twice to make up the standard round.
The balance of the compensation award had been set aside for the construction of a clubhouse and 1953 saw the building completed.
Not surprisingly, after the heavy expenditure on the course and clubhouse, the Club’s finances were always a matter of concern and many and various were the schemes put in hand to raise money. During the winter months the grazings rights of the course were sold to the highest bidder. Not only did this produce extra income, it also, in the years until the practice ceased, produced voluminous correspondence and there was rarely a minute of the monthly committee without the heading “Sheep”.
During the early sixties, with funds still at a low ebb, it was felt that the clubhouse was in need of upgrading to attract members into the club for social purposes, and it was at this time proposals to install a one-armed bandit for an eight-week trial – a trial period which was so successful that the machine was bought outright. Whatever the ethics of gambling and this troubled many members, there is no doubt that gaming machines proved to be the salvation of many golf clubs which were struggling, as we were, to make ends meet. And it was amusing to see many of the members who were so opposed to the introduction of the one-armed bandit quickly became its devotees. The extra income generated was such that it became possible to start entertaining thoughts of extending the club house and later the reinstatement of the course to 18 holes.
Thanks to grant aid and loans from various sources, schemes to extend both course and club house got off the ground in 1970 and on July the 7th 1972 Dr C B Macleod, Honorary President of the club, raised the flag at the newly extended clubhouse and then proceeded to the new first tee to officially open the extended course. The first extension brought back into play the former Heather and Memorial greens and provided 2 completely new holes, Ard Choille and Cabarfeidh, the contractors for the work again being John R. Stutt Ltd. It was to be another 5 years before the remaining 2 holes, Ditch and Ranol, were brought into play, thus creating the magic number of 18.
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