Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland
 Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland

Sutherland's Private Courses.

The following Private courses have been identified in Sutherland:


Balnacoil Lodge


Dunrobin Castle


Gualin Lodge


Skibo Castle

Balnacoil Lodge

The lodge with the former course in the foreground

Balnacoil Lodge, Nr Brora. A nine-hole course in the grounds in front of the lodge

Gualin Lodge

Gualin Lodge, between Rhiconich and Durness. A 9-hole course on the estate, once owned by the Duke of Sutherland.   (AB) 

Skibo Castle Old Course

Skibo Castle, Sutherland.  A 9-hole course, on the Cuthill Links, laid out in 1898 by John Sutherland, Secretary of Dornoch GC, in the grounds, belonging to Andrew Carnegie

Opening of a new Golf Course At Skibo.   .


   "Skibo golf course was opened last week by the little daughter of the proprietor. The course is situated four miles south west from the famous Dornoch Links : in fact, these links are a continuation of the same belt of sandy bent land on the Skibo estates. They are separated from woodlands by the river Evolex, a burn of no mean size, not unknown to heavy spates in the winter. Over this water Mr Andrew Carnegie has caused to be constructed a stout footbridge, 40 yards long, made of pine beams, and capable of resisting the pressure of a moderately heavy volume of water.

   The ceremony of opening this bridge and the adjoining golf course last Thursday afternoon was probably unique. Mr Carnegie and party arrived at the waters edge, preceded by the castle piper, who, playing his pipes, led the way across the bridge : the baby’s coach followed, the castle party, workmen, and castle estate servants bringing up the rear, arrived at the first teeing ground the millionaires child was lifted from her coach, and Mrs Thomson, one of the castle visitors, guided her chubby hands to the handle of the club.

Margaret Carnegie, as a baby, opening Skibo golf course by playing the 1st hole, helped by Betty Thompson and Nana.


Little wonder a hearty round of applause greeted her first shot

   “ The iron King” thereafter made an interesting speech, referring to the bridge as being the first work done by him on his Sutherland property, and to the agreeable relations which he hoped to see in the future established between laird, tenants, and all others connected in any way with Skibo.

   A picnic feast terminated the proceedings. Mr Carnegie has already set about preparing a library for his village of Clashmere, and extensive improvements are about to begin at the castle."                        (S 26.9.1898). 

   "No visitor to Dornoch leaves the district without making an effort to see the stately castle where Mr Andrew Carnegie has made his Scottish home, and the golfer, naturally turns his steps in the direction of the Skibo Private Links. A few minutes drive from the castle, past the gorgeous swimming baths, with their interior of solid marble, brings one to the little club – house by the links, neatly constructed in rustic fashion. Mr Carnegie’s recreations out of doors consist chiefly in fishing and golfing. He is indeed a keen golfer. His club – house and links bear all the appearance of it. The walls of the club room are hung with golfing pictures, including Lee’s well known “ A grand match at golf” in which Sir David Baird, Bart, and Sir Ralph Anstruther, Bart, are engaged in a foursome with Major Playfair and Mr John Campbell of Saddell, and in which also figures a former proprietor of Skibo.

   The Skibo lairds sense of the humorous and his appreciation of a good joke are reflected in the fact that a prominent position has been given to a framed page of “ Golf Illustrated” with the cartoon by “ E.M.,” which appeared immediately after the Hoylake Open Championship of 1902. Some time prior to the championship, it may be recalled, Mr Hilton had written something to the effect that Herd was off his game. Herd, as it turned out, won the championship with a score of 307. Mr Hilton took 314. The clever cartoon shows herd ( No 307 ) Ringing up No 314.“You there, Mr Hilton ?

Aweel, wha said decadence ? A’m Sandy Herd ye ken” The picture, with due appropriateness, has been hung over the telephone instrument communicating with Skibo Castle.

   On the links are again seen traces of the handiwork of Mr John Sutherland, who has done so much for golf, and golfers in the north. Mr Sutherland, indeed, laid out the private green of nine holes,which affords Mr Carnegie and his friends, and those about the estate, to whom he is kindly granted the privilege of playing, many pleasant hours at the Royal and Ancient Game. Needless to say, the nicely situated course by the side of the Dornoch firth is kept in tip top order."   (S 4.7.1904)

Carnegie and friends at Skibo Links
Carnegie at At Andrews Golf Club, Yonkers, New York

Following Andrew Carnegie’s death in 1919, the links became fallow.


In 1992 a new 18-hole course was laid out for the Carnegie Club on the Cuthill Links, but little of the original layout was used.

Wait a minute, that's my missus, how the hell did she get inside Skibo ?. Obviously got friends in high places !!

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