For over half a century, stood as a tribute to Dunedin’s Scottish heritage and to the “Old Course,” the real St. Andrews Links in Scotland.
The 18-hole, par 3 course, a popular recreation stop for novice golfers off Bayshore Boulevard, even posted a flag at the 18th hole, with the famous logo of the Swilcan Bridge, one of the most recognizable sports symbols in the world.
Today, everything at the golf course — right down to the pencils and golf bags —has been changed. The atmosphere of the course still reveres its 51 years of tradition, only now, and quite suddenly, it is called Dunedin Stirling Links and rebranded with a fresh logo.
What's with the new name and look?
In December 2010, Dunedin city officials were shocked to see a lawsuit hit them all the way from Scotland. St. Andrews Links Trust, the managing firm that conducts the day-to-day operations of the “Old Course,” stunned the city of Dunedin and the course's managing firm, Billy Casper Golf, with a $75,000 demand and the threat of a lawsuit over trademark infringement.
A St. Andrews Links Trust spokesman said, "St Andrews Links is recognized around the world as the home of golf. It is a national asset for Scotland, and St. Andrews Links has a duty to protect the St. Andrews name and the reputation of its world- renowned golf courses. The Swilcan Bridge is also an important part of this identity and we cannot allow it to be exploited.”
"We were, needless to say, stunned," Mayor Dave Eggers said.
In the face of a pricey litigation battle, Dunedin hired patent trademark and copyright law specialist Bill Larson, to defend them. Larson said that the city had a strong foundation on which to fight the case, noting that the law sometimes allows companies who have used a trademark for a long time to grandfather it.
The city of Dunedin could not pursue this action, as the cost of the lawsuit would have eclipsed $200,000. However, both parties compromised and no money would have to exchange hands as long as Dunedin changed the name of the course in 120 days and relinquished ownership of its website domain name.
This still left a question of what to call the course, so as to acknowledge and maintain the city's Scottish identity.
Dunedin Golf Club, the Highland Games Committee, the Scottish American Society and local New World Celts gathered to generate a new name. City Commissioners voted, and “Dunedin Stirling Links” was born.
The name now holds a strong bond between Dunedin and Stirling, its sister town in Scotland.
The grand re-opening of on April 1, 2 and 3 coincides with the beginning of Highland Games Week, which is April 2 through 9. Admission is $9, escalating by one dollar a day. The re-opening features free food, giveaways, merchandise, lessons and more.
“We are finishing up the final touches. We have until April 1st to get our new signs up and all of our business collateral is in,” Dunedin Stirling General Manager Drew Petersen said.
Billy Casper Golf operates over 120 golf courses in 27 states. Peter Hill, co-founder, CEO and Chairman of Billy Casper Golf was most notably named No. 4 on "Golf Inc.’s" international ranking of the “Most Powerful People in Golf.” He joins Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in the magazine's top five list.