We have the following two pictures hanging in the Clubhouse. Splendid oak and brass framed companion photographs of “Old” Tom Morris and Horace Hutchinson. Relics from the Old Clubhouse no doubt and we can only speculate on the reason for their presence in Stornoway. But we know that Morris laid out the delightful nine hole course at Askernish in South Uist around 1890, and we like the idea of these two gentlemen, respectfully the most eminent professional and amateur golfers of their day, making a missionary journey to the Western Isles, laying out courses and trying to convert the natives of these shores to the game of golf.
It is as good a theory as any for the origin of Stornoway Golf Club, and cannot be disproved since the minute books of the Club go back only as far as the AGM of 1933. This in itself is a sizable chunk of golfing history, but we would dearly love to locate the records of the missing years from 1890 when, in July of that year, according to the infallible authority of the Royal and Ancient, Stornoway Golf Club was instituted. So if there is any old SY out there in the Yukon or Patagonia or wherever, who knows the whereabouts of the lost minutes, let us know, and instant Honorary Life Membership can be yours.
It is likely that the precise date of the Club’s institution was July 17, 1890 since that is the date inscribed on our oldest piece of silverware – the Jackson Medal (left) – presented to the Club by Major Randle Jackson of Swordale.
The description of Stornoway Golf Club in the Golfing Annual of 1890-91, sandwiched between Stonehaven and Stowe-on-the-Wold, states that the course consists of nine holes – five out and four in – situated on the Melbost links within three miles of the Burgh of Stornoway and runs parallel to the shores of Broad Bay stretching out for fully a mile and a half.
Recent enquiries into the origins of the Club from the Scottish Land Court produced the interesting information that 192 acres had been resumed from the townships of Melbost and Steinish, the purpose of which was “that the free exercise of that game might continue in future without interference on the part of the crofters of Melbost and Steinish”. A fond hope, but not one that was to be borne out in the ensuing years.
Newspaper reports concerning the Club in The Highland News and subsequently The Stornoway Gazette were infrequent. Nevertheless, we have acquired various items of memorabilia relating to the formative years of the club. Although we have no indication of when the course was extended to 18 holes, we have a very full account in The Highland News of the bazaar, held over a period of two days – June 3 and 4, 1913 – in Stornoway Town Hall for the express purpose of raising enough money to build a Clubhouse. And it did. Over the two days a grand total of £502-9/- was realised and the Club was then able to erect, free of debt, a purpose built Clubhouse at the Steinish end of 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