Established in 1891 and designed by a golfing legend, those who make the long journey north to Brora Golf Club have for years been rewarded with some of the finest links around.

Clinging to the edge of the North Sea, dotted with trickling burns, challenging gulleys and electric fences at its perimeters to prevent hungry sheep from chewing on its greens, five time Open Champion Peter Thomson declared it to be among his favourite courses.

So when the small ‘hidden gem’ golf club highlighted its concerns that the coronavirus crisis could topple it into oblivion, there were hopes that some golf fans might take pity and dig deep to help it through.

Instead, the Sutherland club was met by a global wave of support that left its tiny shop swamped with orders and has boosted its finances by around £200,000 in just a few weeks.

While shop staff battled to handle hundreds of orders for merchandise, donations and advance tee-time bookings, dozens of applications for new memberships flooded in.

Among around 80 new members signing up to the Club, were seven who paid £10,000 each to become ‘Platinum’ members.

And from fearing it might not survive the pandemic, the Club has now found itself overwhelmed by the response and the goodwill messages from around the world.

“It was much better than we ever expected,” said club General Manager Tony Gill.

“We knew we have a good worldwide following, but it has been really nice to see how loyal that following is and how prepared they were to support us.”

The club, which sits around 20 miles north of Royal Dornoch and is the most northerly course designed by golf legend James Braid, was plunged into financial chaos as lockdown restrictions hit.

Because of its remote location, it relies heavily on around £350,000 a year income from visitors to boost the £100,000 a year it receives in fees from its 600 memberships.

“We did some projections at the end of March and looked at what our income might be depending on how long the lockdown lasted, compared to our costs,” he added.

“There was a big difference between the two figures, and not in a good way.

“We put the message out to our members that if you want a club to come back to, then we need income.

“Next thing it went around the world.”

Messages of support flowed into the club’s social media pages from golf fans from the United States, Australia, South Africa and the Bahamas.

Five-time Open champion Tom Watson, an honorary member of the club, tweeted his support, while social media influencers No Laying Up donated money through an exclusive towel sale.

To boost funds, the club launched a series of fundraising offers, including lifetime and five-year hole sponsorship plans, club shop membership packages, a new £325 international membership and the £10,000 Platinum life membership – with remarkable results.

“The Platinum membership was designed for people who wanted to give us some extra money. It’s a hefty chunk of money but we have been amazed at the response,” added Mr Gill.

Two of the Platinum memberships, which offer lifetime membership, a chance to have the member’s name highlighted in the clubhouse, access to an annual Platinum members’ event, and a gift of a tie or scarf, were sold to people with direct links to the Brora area.

One, Bernard Ledworth, who moved to Brora in 2005, told the club’s website: “Since I arrived in this small remote village, I soon realised how important visitors are to the survival of the golf club.

“Local membership is small and membership fees remarkably low for a course of this quality. The golf club needed to reach out to its worldwide fan base, as well as its local members, in order to get financial aid.

“Many golf clubs worldwide will disappear over the next few months. We could not allow Brora to be one of them.”

“Brora committee acting quickly, as they did, has given us a fighting chance of survival – but much more is needed.”

Another, Les Steel, who has family links to the area, said he had opted to buy the £10,000 membership rather than putting the money in the bank or stocks and shares. “I’ve effectively paid 20 years of golf at once,” he added.

Brora was established in 1891 as a nine hole course and was extended in 1900 to 18 holes.

Five times Open Champion and prolific golf course designer James Braid visited the course in 1924 and in return for just £25 plus travelling expenses, submitted plans for a redesigned 18-hole layout.

The course is regarded as particularly challenging due to the North Sea wind and its natural obstacles.

President Andy Stewart said: “We were looking forward to a bumper year of visitor numbers, projected at £350,000, before the COVID-19 pandemic halted us in our tracks in March.

“With a dependence on visitor income, we have had to be creative in our thinking to drive new revenue and we have simply been overwhelmed with the love for us from across the world.

“I think we always knew we had members and visitors who love our links. But, when that support all comes together at once, I think it has just been incredible for all of us to realise just how well regarded the golf club is.

“It really has been fantastic.”