A DEDICATED golfer with a famous name created Royal Dornoch to celebrate the tee time on his 700th golf course.

Retired Perthshire dairy farmer Tom Watson marked the milestone with a trip north, where the Blairgowrie and Elie member – and former starter at Gleneagles – added Struie’s course to the long list of grounds golf course he’s been ticking off methodically since his school days.

The visit was prompted by a senior game between Blairgowrie and the victorious hosts, with visiting vice-captain Colin Allison presenting Tom with a crystal decanter in the clubhouse to mark the occasion.

Struan Robertson (left), Colin Allison, Tom Watson and Royal Dornoch Seniors captain David Muschamp pictured during Tom’s landmark visit.

Tom (85), who became a junior member of Blairgowrie in 1948, had feared his attempt to reach the landmark would be thwarted by the pandemic and a back problem that kept him away from the golf course for seven month.

He said: “I played the Struie Course with Blairgowrie vice-captain Colin Allison and Royal Dornoch duo Struan Robertson and Alistair Fleming, who was a member of Blair before heading north.

“I often played with Alistair when he lived in Alyth, so it was nice to see him joining us.

“I keep track of the courses I have played since I was young, when I played on a public course in Glasgow called Linn Park in April 1948, riding a tram from my grandparents’ house.

“It preceded playing Blairgowrie, where I have been a member since May 16 of the same year. An uncle paid 10 shillings for a two-year junior membership.

Away from the trip, Tom was delighted to register the number 700 in the Highlands.

“When I was signed up to the senior squad to go to Dornoch I realized the Struie would be ideal to get me to the 700 mark,” he said.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play the Championship many times over the years, but never the Struie. I was surprised how good it is.

“It turned out to be a much bigger and more difficult course than I had ever imagined.

“He must have lived in the shadow of the Championship, one of the greatest golf courses in the world. But it’s definitely a top-notch course in its own right.

“I really couldn’t have chosen a better place to mark the milestone. It worked perfectly and everyone at the Royal Dornoch made me feel very welcome.

Tom admits sharing a name with an eight-time Majors winner has provided fun times at clubs on either side of the Atlantic.

“Over the years, there have been times when people have done a double take when I gave them my name,” he said.

“When Watson was in his prime, I often had people in the pro shops who would unknowingly roll their eyes when I gave them my name.

“I once had the chance to play with Tom at Longniddry.

“But I’ve always said that’s where the similarity ends, even though we both value Royal Dornoch very highly.”

As for a favorite on his travels, a clue may lie in the name of the house he shares with his wife Ena by Blairgowrie’s Lansdowne course.

“It would be wrong to say that one course is better than another, so I wouldn’t really want to choose just one.

“We called our home Pinehurst. I have played the famous No2 course 12 times and of course it is considered one of the finest courses designed by Dornoch born Donald Ross.

“You can see Dornoch’s influence in the upside-down saucer greens, which were his trademark.

“I still want to keep playing golf, so hopefully there will be room for a few more courses to be added to the list.”

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