I have restrained from commenting on this project for a while until more information became available. I now feel feel there is enough known to share my take.
Having: been a member in the past for 10 years, , married a gal from the town, been fortunate to have as a father-in-law, the late Dr.John Macleod, club Captain, member for 50 years, and town Doc working with, and after, his father's passing, I feel I have a balanced perspective on what RDGC and the town has been historically.
Dr. Macleod wrote the book on the club's history, which he completed shortly before his very sad passing in 2001.
He was a thoughtful, kind and wise man who listened a lot, and chose his words VERY carefully before rendering a opinion.
I will never forget his astute words about making changes to the club OR town of Dornoch.
He said," Kris, it's not what you do, it's what you DON'T do ...that retains the specialness of a place!"
That succinct and BRILLIANT statement will serve as the underpinning for what follows.
First, make NO mistake, Americans are driving this project full stop. The H&I folks will support ANYTHING that brings MONEY to the area. But without Mr. Warnock and Mr.Keiser leading on this....ZERO happens.
Mr. Keiser is a class act. So are C&C,, his designated design team.
He has a proven record of world class golf property creation, as do C&C, that is generally VERY sympathetic to the environment.
All that said....THIS property needs to left as it is!!!!!!
The property is in EMBO, NOT Dornoch. I'm SURE that those public meetings will reveal MANY locals AGAINST this PARTICULAR site being MUTILATED!!!!
Dr. Macleod ,and countless others in the Dornoch area have known of that estuary dunes land site FOREVER! But they KNEW.... it was too precious and special as an ecosystem to be tampered with!!!! He felt it should be LEFT ALONE to function as the AWESOME entity it is.
He is not alone in that rationale.
with a brain, that can appreciate the unique nature of that place, while checking their greed and ego at the edge of the path to that ground... can come ONLY to that conlusion!!!
If Mr. Keiser, a man I rate highly, had a shred of the respect for nature, and the humility to do the right thing he claims....he would reflect on that reality and decide NOT to move forward on changing that ground.
I do not know much about Mr. Warnock, other than he has a VESTED interest in filling his B&B, ,and while helping restore that historic building in the town is noble... it DOES NOT give him the right to destroy that ground in EMBO for PROFIT!!!!
There are certain places on this planet that simply need to be left alone.
THIS GROUND is one of them!!!!
PERIOD. END OF STORY.
Looking deeper at why? This ENTIRE coastline is ravaged... FREQUENTLY.... by fierce storms.The second course at RD, the Struie, known as the "lower course" by the locals, was and is often BLASTED by gales and heavy flooding. In fact, the new holes Donald Steel put in had to be REDONE, at considerable cost ( 300k plus if memory serves me rigjt) after one such event in the 2000's!
That land is VERY close to the edge of the Dornoch Firth,
as is the estuary area of Coul Links!
Wind driven storm surges... remember we're talking the North Atlantic Sea here, push seawater WELL inland regularly.
No way you are going to prevent that impacting the golf at Coul Links, if you are anywhere close to the shore(VIEWS) without SIGNIFICANT altering of that ground.
The bird life that inhabitats that sensitive estuary dunes land is among the most special in Scotland.
Keiser's other projects have NEVER disturbed that type of special ground!!!! Even Trump's property doesn' t come CLOSE to matching what exists there at Embo.
I was fortunate enough to walk Machrihanish Dunes, on the west coast of Scotland, during the early days of it's creation. It REMAINS the most environmentally responsible golf course built ANYWHERE in Scotland, or tbe world for that matter, in the last 50 years given all that DMK and Evan Grant, who oversaw creation and grow-in as Head Superintendent, had to contend with.
The site had quite a few SSI areas with rare plants. That site also doesn't even compare to the diversity of wildlife, or development complexity of the Coul Links site.
Another somber point to ponder...Dr. Macleod told me that RD was VERY VERY quiet, regarding visitor play, for SEVERAL years, after the Lockerbie downing. I don't think I need to illuminate anybody what would transpire were a similar episode to repeat itself. This is ESPECIALLY true TODAY. Ironically, it would be the very links offerings Mr. Keiser has created in the US, that folks can now enjoy stateside, that would provide a less risky alternative for Americans should such an event occur. While there are plenty of other worldwide golfers who visit to play up thete, US visitors are the fuel that drives this project.
Earlier stories on this Embo site spoke of only a small starter's hut, and a super light footprint. The latest article, kindly posted by Mr. Tepper, speaks of a practice area, pro shop and CAFE! You MUST be joking Mr. Warnock!!!!!! The mushroom cloud is already gathering size and the plan hasn't even been submitted!
As to the need for ANOTHER course of Dornoch's stature to ensure the region's economic vitality. ... BS to that!!!!
The region is LOADED with great/good golf. BRORA is an absolute cracker of a course! Two rounds on RD and one there are MORE than enough reason for staying OVERNIGHT in Dornoch. Tain, Golspie and the nine hole charmer at Portmahomack (SP?) across the Dornoch Firth, near the not to be missed Oystercatcher dining spot, offer plenty of nice, additional links options for extended stays.
A C&C Coul Links will only draw more belt notcher, trunk slammer
types, mainly Americans that are ALREADY going to come up to play RD!
Marketing ALL of the upper Highlands region BETTER is what's needed.... NOT a NOT COOL LINKS on THAT site!!!!
As to price creep in the extortionate greens fees enjoyed by the top courses up there now....Nairn got very proud of themselves and bumped their number in the late 90's...Castle Stuart, due to having to PAY for their land, as opposed to the common ground land so many older Scottish links offerings benefit from, and modern construction costs, made it a lock that a high green fee would be a given.
Royal Dornoch will ALWAYS be the best golfing experience in the Highlands so long as they don't ruin what they have.!!!!!! The club, to their credit, has been modest in raising their green fees...and this, in the main, has been IN RESPONSE to what the other facilities up there have charged.
The zeal for more quid is a powerful tonic that can overwhelm many.... I just hope those that REALLY care...about that area's OVERALL health, follow that telling statement cited at the beginning of my remarks by Dr. Macleod. He dearly loved the game and revered the Dornoch area.
You can NOT have economic sustainability WITHOUT environmental sustainability!
Do the right thing Mike, let the model for ALL you have done for everything in golf ALONE ...and continue to enjoy it as it IS!!! Dornoch, like ALL of the world's great RURAL locales, needs to evolve SLOWLY.
Coul Links should REMAIN as it is... that would be the COULEST legacy Mike could EVER leave the birthplace of his vision for superb, remote links golf!!!!!!