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Hebrides News


A move to lift a controversial restriction against playing golf on Sundays in Stornoway has been launched.


Teeing off on the Sabbath is banned at the Stornoway Golf Club under a historic clause in the lease with community landlord, the Stornoway Trust.


Since the course was built about 65 years ago golf has never been played, reflecting the historic local island values of observing the Sabbath.


But Callum Ian Macmillan - an elected member of the trust - has set up an online survey in a bid to gauge people views.


He says times have changed and islanders have a less strict outlook on Sunday activities.


Mr Macmillan intends to present the results to Monday’s meeting of the Stornoway Trust when the golf course lease is expected to come up for discussion.


He says the internet survey allows people to respond with either yes or no to one simple question: Should all sports which take place in the Lews Castle Grounds be treated in the same way by the Stornoway Trust?


He queried why golf is banned while other sports and activities like jogging, running or biking are allowed.


The trustee said: “All sport should be encouraged - not restricted. They should all be treated in the same way whether it be cycling, athletics or sledging in winter.


“Currently the only sport which is restricted in the castle grounds is the opportunity to play golf on the Stornoway golf course on a Sunday.


He added: “People play football on the pitches behind the golf club, cycle on Stornoway Trust cycle paths and take part in athletics in the castle grounds seven days a week.


“The purpose of the survey - like any market research - is to provide people with the opportunity to register their view.”


He continued: “We keep getting told - without any evidence - that the community is against golf taking place on the course on Sundays.”


Thus the poll will help in assessing local opinion, says Mr Macmillan.


The survey link at runs until midnight on Friday night.


Sunday observance campaigner John Macleod said: “I don’t see how an online poll of the SurveyMonkey variety helps clarify anything very much, as it’d be impossible to confine signatures to folk who actually live in the parish of Stornoway – or even, perhaps, to stop people signing more than once.


“I think Calum also misses a moral issue – that Stornoway Golf Club acquired the land for their course, at a pretty nominal rent, on an agreement freely entered into that there would be no play on the Lord’s Day.


“We, as a community, have a right to expect that organisations like that keep their word, and so far the community has continued to elect a majority of trust members on the side of our safe and restful island Sabbath.”


He added: “As far as I know Stornoway Golf Club isn’t actually agitating just now for Sabbath play, so I’m not quite sure what has come over Callum Ian. He also doesn’t seem to grasp that golf – a sport of small hard balls whacked at high speed – is dangerous in a way that other leisure-activities are not, and that most locals appreciate Sunday as the one day the lovely grounds can be explored fully by families without risk of being brained by a golf-ball.


“I understand a golf-ball can travel at more than 100mph and a mis-hit, or 'shank', can make the ball fly off at almost a right-angle. This land belongs to us as a community and one day in seven, without that risk – well, is it really too much to ask?”


Conflicting desires within the community puts the publicly elected Stornoway Trust between a rock and a hard place.


Dramatic change in the Sabbath landscape compared to just a few years ago has seen the introduction of seven-day ferries and planes while a number of pubs and a couple of shops now open on the Lewis Sunday.


However, many islanders who are not church goers nor particularly religious strongly back Sunday observance where shops, public services and facilities are closed.

Sunday is the only time people can enjoy a stroll across the golf course without the risk of being in the way of a flying golf ball.


Pro-opening campaigners point to alcohol and food being served at the licensed café within the council-owned Lews Castle. The comhairle leased the premises to a hospitality firm, after using £19 million of public funds to renovate the building.


Campaigners also call for more Sunday services like the Stornoway Sports Centre and the golf club to operate.


Sabbath Observance adherents say this not only breaks the Fourth Commandment against Sunday employment but also attacks at the heart of traditional island values.








Move to ditch ban on Sunday golf in Stornoway

4 December 2017

Callum Ian Macmillan has set up a survey over Sunday sports

People go sledging on the course on Sunday in winter