Royal Dornoch Golf Club are pressing ahead with groundworks to create a new par three hole on the Struie Course.
The development of the ninth hole coincides with work on a new £13.9 million clubhouse, which is due to begin shortly.
The club, who marked their centenary this year, will also benefit from a £1.5 million investment in a new irrigation system being installed next year.
General manager Neil Hampton says greenkeeping staff are already operating in tandem with leading golf course architects to get the development under way.
Hampton said: “Proposals for a new par three hole on the Struie have been approved by members, along with plans to replace the dated irrigation system on the course.
“Eoin Riddell and his greenkeeping team are liaising with leading golf course architects Mackenzie and Ebert, who have previously carried out well received work on the Championship Course, and the project should be completed by Christmas and ready for play next season.
Big aspirations at Royal Dornoch
“This is a first step towards more ambitious aspirations for a golf course which regularly rates among Scotland’s top 50, but which has been overshadowed by our world-famous Championship Course.
“Once finished, this will be our new ninth hole, with lovely views to Dornoch Point and across to Portmahomack.
“We will have 19 holes in the short term, which may also help during the construction phase of the new clubhouse.
“The ground source heat pump planned for the clubhouse requires 21 vertical bore holes so at some point this will inevitably mean an element of disruption on the 1st of the Struie.
“In the longer term, the tentative plan is to start at the 3rd hole and finish at the 17th, building new holes on land near the 10th green overlooking the Dornoch Firth, which we are keen to secure.
“The irrigation system has been showing its age. This project will future proof the golf course with scope to accommodate any new holes which may be created further down the line once the membership has been consulted on any potential configuration.”
Recent conditions have caused challenges
Course manager Riddell says his team have had to contend with unusually heavy rainfall, with over 40mm of rain recorded during a recent weekend.
Riddell said: “Drier weather would have been more welcome because the area is grassland and low lying. But we have been able to get started.
“While most of the material being used is on-site, the shaping is taking account of the low-lying topography. The tees, infinity green and fairway all have to be raised up.
“We are again working closely with architect and club member Tom Mackenzie, who handled the realignment of holes 7 and 8 on the Championship Course.
“In keeping with our other Par 3 holes at Royal Dornoch, this one will be relatively short-but-challenging off tees ranging from 137 to 154 and 174 yards.
“I’m sure it will be warmly welcomed by members and visitors alike.”