Many people are surprised to find that the game of golf in Orkney dates back as far as the 16th century, a letter sent by a servant to Earl Stewart requested golf balls for him to play, also a number of other historical documents mention early golf and golfing equipment. It was possible that they played golf over the links in Birsay, being a place most reminiscent of early links courses. Golf, however, it seems died away in Orkney around the time of the Jacobite Rebellion.
It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that golf became popular again, and was once again played over the links at Birsay, as well as links in Deerness and Warebeth outside Stromness. In the 1890’s Orkney Golf Club moved into Kirkwall, initially with a course at Pickaquoy, with a further short move to the hill at Grainbank where a 9-hole course was expanded to an 18-hole course in 1922.
At about this time developments were also underway at the Stromness golf club with a move from Warebeth to Ness Point. These two clubs have since then experienced significant developments in their courses and facilities with the result that Orkney can boast excellent golfing venues.
Orkney Golf Club, based in Kirkwall, is an 18-hole, 5500 yards, par 70 golf course with a parkland nature. The golf course breaks you in with three of the longest holes on the course, with two par 4s sandwiching a par 5. The club is located to the west of the town, with tremendous views to the St Magnus Cathedral and to the north across Kirkwall Bay.
The course at Stromness Golf Club is a 4804 yards, par 65 with a tight and tricky layout. There are 11 par-4s and seven par-3 holes. The course is located at the south end of the town. Views to the south are dominated by the island of Hoy and its spectacular 300m sea cliffs.
Both clubs are fully committed to developing golf for all and in particular junior golf throughout Orkney.