A History

Of Tradition and Community

A Storied Past

At Reay Golf Course, our history is rich and captivating, spanning two distinct halves. Established in 1893, the course operated until 1940, serving as a treasured pastime for the local community. However, changing population dynamics led to a decline in membership, resulting in the club’s closure. Nevertheless, the legacy of Reay Golf Course endured, and in 1962, the club was re-established, standing as a testament to the enduring passion for golf in this beautiful region.

Birth of a Golfing Haven

In the late 19th century, Mr. Thomas Pilkington recognized the potential for a golf course in the lush landscapes between Sandside Bay and the road west from Thurso. This led to the establishment of a 12-hole course, slightly older than the club itself. On December 27, 1893, fifteen enthusiasts gathered at the Reay Inn, including Mr. Alex Manson of Sandside, who became the club’s first secretary. Competition fixtures quickly became a highlight, and prizes were donated to enhance the New Year’s Day event, a tradition that continues to this day.

In 1899, a pavilion-style clubhouse was erected near the start/finish of the course, offering a welcoming gathering place for members. However, after the club’s closure in 1940, the clubhouse faced neglect and eventually succumbed to the elements in the gales of 1952.

Revival and Community Spirit

The club’s decline in 1940 was a consequence of shifting population patterns in the region. However, in the 1950s, a significant influx of people due to the Dounreay fast reactor technology development breathed new life into the area. The Taylor family, owners of Sandside estate, offered the Dounreay Sports and Social Club golf section the chance to lease the right to play on the Reay links, an opportunity they eagerly embraced.

Led by Donald Carmichael, a dedicated member keen on restoring the course from his youth, the club took shape again in the early 1960s. In 1963, with a new clubhouse and a bar license in hand, the club completed the 19 holes, and Sunday morning golf was introduced.

Today, Reay Golf Course remains a community asset, thanks to the determination of our members and volunteers who, through dedicated fundraising efforts, secured the course’s ownership in 2017.

James Braid's Legacy

James Braid, a renowned club maker, professional golfer, and esteemed course designer, visited Reay in 1933. Invited to suggest an expansion to 18 holes, Braid carefully assessed the course, noting its interesting and varied character. His recommendations played a crucial role in shaping the course into its present form. Braid’s influence resulted in Reay Golf Course becoming the most northerly among his 101 course designs in Scotland, a testament to his genius as a golf course architect.

Embracing the Future

As we celebrate our 125th anniversary year, Reay Golf Course embarks on the next chapter of its illustrious history. With the course’s land now owned by the club, we look forward to preserving this golfing gem as a cherished community asset for generations to come. We invite you to join us on the 19th hole and be a part of the next 125 years of our course’s captivating journey.

At Reay Golf Course, we celebrate a legacy of tradition, camaraderie, and unwavering passion for golf. We welcome golfers of all skill levels to experience our historic course amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the Highlands. Be a part of our storied journey, and together, let’s create unforgettable moments on the greens of Reay Golf Course.

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