Embedded into the local communities golf and life go hand in hand in Scotland’s great golf towns. Perhaps the best example of a Scottish golf club fostering such a culture today is Royal Dornoch. This looks set to continue in 2015 as the club plans to recruit local young staff as it targets excellence on and off the course.
Many lucky enough to have played Royal Dornoch in recent years will reminisce fondly of the young and friendly staff that look to engage with you as a golfing tourist to Dornoch. On my most recent visit in May a different fresh faced staff member greeted me in the Pro Shop, on the first tee, at the Halfway House and in the bar. I remember sitting looking out onto the first tee and thinking how refreshing it was to see passionate, young people in the Scottish golf tourism industry.
It was later I learned that Royal Dornoch recently passed an Investors in People assessment and has now decided to pursue the new IIYP award, a policy to reward and recognise employers who employ people aged between 16 and 24. This year the club employed over 50 full-time, part-time and seasonal staff, with young people making up almost half the total.
Neil Hampton, Royal Dornoch’s General Manager, said: “When recruiting, we always approach our local school first and look to offer the positions to local people, while also encouraging work experience placements.”
This latest incentive comes shortly after other similar projects were implemented only to invigorate the inherent golf town of Dornoch. Last year the club helped fund a three year PHD study into the history of golf in the local region between the 1600s-1800s. (You can hear initial study findings on Episode 37.) Furthermore this year a community fund was set up to support local groups, using a percentage of the net green fee income from visitors with the first beneficiary being the local football team.
As a young professional that would qualify for the IIYP scheme outlined above, it’s refreshing to see new efforts to attract young people into the Scottish golf tourism industry. The industry here needs youthfulness, enterprise and ambition if The Home of Golf as hoped for becomes the number one golf destination in the world by 2020.
These recent efforts to help bring golf back to the people in Dornoch is the single best example of fostering a tangible ‘golf town’ impression onto the golfing visitor. While this may be completely unintentional, the eagerness to engage and give back to the community is something that will ensure the visiting golfer feels at home off the course while visiting Dornoch on their next golf trip.
The community which surrounds the world renowned links of Royal Dornoch is alive and well, revealing in golf and it’s overseas visitor just as it once did in thriving golf towns of Nairn, Cruden Bay, Carnoustie and Troon. These at times soulless haunts should take note of Dornoch.