David Bell named new captain at Royal Dornoch Golf Club

PROFESSOR David Bell CBE has been appointed captain of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club.

David Bell.

A native of the city and an alumnus of Dornoch Academy and Golspie High School, the longtime member succeeds Willie MacKay.

He will serve a two-year term, with two-time Carnegie Shield winner Gary Bethune named vice-captain at the club‘s annual meeting.

Professor Bell paid a warm tribute to his predecessor for leading the club and staff during the pandemic.

“These are extraordinary times,” he noted.

“Dealing with a pandemic was difficult both in terms of physically maintaining business and trying to imagine what the world would be like if, and when, we escaped this horrible disease.

“None of that intimidated Willie. No matter the problem, he gave his full attention to finding a solution.

“Part of this was to keep staff safe; part was trying to navigate an escape route for Royal Dornoch during extraordinary financial uncertainty; some of them dealt with issues that needed to be addressed but that went largely unnoticed by members.

“And we have emerged into a world where, thanks to the exceptional work of the staff and the guidance of Willie, the reputation of Royal Dornoch has never been higher.”

Professor Bell noted that the club’s greatest asset was a championship course ranked among the best in the world, with The Struie quickly emerging as an acclaimed course in its own right.

But he cautioned: “Even though our background is near the top of the world rankings, I think we underestimate some of our other strengths, such as our heritage and our environmental credentials.

“There are few other clubs that come close to us in either of those areas.

“Part of our heritage is the mutually supportive bonds between the Royal Burgh and the club.

“The club is a hugely important economic driver for Dornoch and the club would not be what it is without the support of the community.”

A graduate of the University of Aberdeen with an honors degree in economics and statistics, the new captain’s career took him to posts at the universities of St Andrews, Strathclyde, Warwick and Glasgow before joining the University of Stirling in as a professor of economics in 1990.

Having developed a passion for golf growing up in Dornoch, while at Stirling, Professor Bell was instrumental in developing the university’s famous golf scholarship scheme, which has produced the likes of captain of the Solheim Cup Catriona Matthew, European Tour player Richie Ramsay and Louise Duncan, who recently made it to the professional ranks.

Although now nominally retired, he is still heavily involved in the world of economic and social policy and often appears in media interviews.

He chairs the Scottish Government’s Regional Policy Advisory Group and works with UK political influencers on the extension of devolution in England.

Professor Bell is a member of the scientific monitoring committee of a pan-European study on the economic and health impacts of aging and is committed to promoting the positive effects of golf on the health of older people.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Scotland’s national academy) in 2003 and is still heavily involved in its activities.

He is currently a holder of the Stewart Cup, which is contested by the Tait Golfing Society – the Royal Society’s own golf club.

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