b'HERITAGE THE CARNEGIE CLUBPrevious page: Skibos beautifully preserved landscape. Left: owner Ellis Short has brought the castle back to its former glory.Skibo, says Peter Crome, long-standing chairman of The Carnegieresult. Its just been voted one of the top 15 courses in the UK. We have Opposite: the restoredClub. One thing that altered quite rapidly was the courting of VIPalso completely changed the food, and I am very happy with it all now.swimming pool is oneendorsements. I dont think celebrity weddings and the like bring inOne of the few things we changed in the castleapart from of Skibos key featuresmuch business, but they do generate publicity. And that isnt alwayssensitively adding showers in the majority of the bedroomswas welcomewe are a private members club, after all. in the installation of a modern kitchen. The original just wasnt The new owner was keen to show the members that he meantdesigned to cope with the numbers we have now, which might be 70 business in other ways, too. We inherited something that might,for dinner. The other major refurbishment has been the swimming optimistically, be called shabby-chic, but the chic part had long gone,pool. Generally, everything Andrew Carnegie did, he did to a very says Mr Short. We had silk wallpaper with threads hanging off andhigh standard, says Mr Short. The exception was the swimming pool. drapes that might have been top of the range in 1907, but couldnt bePeter Crome agrees: According to the archives, the pool started having I t is 25 years since The Carnegie Club was founded at Skibo Castle,drawn because of the holes in them. All that had to be changedusingtroubles in 1925. In the 1960s the glass roof was replaced with an ugly the former home of the late industrialist and philanthropisttraditional manufacturers who could duplicate the original qualityfibre-glass one. By the time we inherited it, condensation dripped Andrew Carnegie. Such anniversaries usually mark the pointand designand quite quickly. And then there was the Golf House.from the roof onto the swimmers.where we take stock, contemplating the past while anticipating andHouse? It was a shed. It was embarrassing. Although we probablyHowever, renovation wasnt entirely straightforward, as Mr Short planning for the next quarter of a century. After all, in human terms,should have closed it and executed a full rebuild, it was importantexplains: It was a health and safety hazardit would have been 25 years is, with luck, a third of our allotted span. However, a greatto me that we opened the first season with a better version, assimpler and much cheaper to close the pool and rebuild something and venerable structure such as Skibo has a future that recedes toa statement of intent. So we refurbished and expanded, and it wentmodern elsewhere on the estate. But the pool was a major feature a vanishing point on the far horizon. Lets be bluntit will be standingdown very well with the members. Weve had to do it again since,of Skibo. So when we said, well rebuild the complex, we expected proud overlooking the Dornoch Firth when we have all moved on.of course, as well as redoing the actual course, three or four holesHistoric Scotland to applaud that decision. But it said we had to keep To re-purpose a clich, the current owners are custodians for theat a time. The course he inherited was simply not up to the standardthe 1960s roof, because it was historic! Eventually the threat to generations to come who will enjoy Skibo and this anniversarythat Mr Short had visualised and it has been the focus for muchmothball the old and build anew won the day, and the pool is now is simply a waymarker on a far longer journey. improvement. Now it has been rebuilt, we are very proud of thea cut above its former glory.In 2003, the Club was given what Hollywood would inevitably8 1 call a reboot. New owners Ellis and Eve Short forged a change 1 9 of direction, steering a much-loved institution onto a different course, gaining new fans without, hopefully, alienating past admirers. Ellis Short remembers when he first laid eyes on Skibo. It was 1999. My wife and I visited as the guests of a friend who was a member. Was it love at first sight? Well, it struck me as a very beautiful property. Skibo had survived pretty much intact from Andrew Carnegies day. It hadnt been requisitioned by the military in either World War, nor had it been turned into a boys school, like so many other estates. When you stay in a bedroom at Skibo, you are effectively staying in the same room as one of Andrew Carnegies guests in the early part of the 20th century.Mr Short became a member on that first visit, but it is quite a leap from membership to ownership. How did that happen? I tried to rent one of the lodges for a whole summer, but I was told I couldnt do that because there were corporate event bookings, which meant they would have to move me out several times. And I realised that, I KNEW IT COULD BEalthough it was called a club, in fact, it was being run as a high-end hotel. I felt it could be so amazing, but at that time it- was falling A GREAT CLUB, ONE OFshort. He ended up purchasing a house nearby, but when the THE FINEST IN THE WORLD opportunity to buy Skibo came along, he saw the chance to help it fulfil its potential. I knew it could be a great club, one of the finest in the world, but I also knew that it needed a lot of care and investment to achieve that.And how did the change of stewardship go down with the other Amy Murrellmembers? There was some concern, as there always is when change is afoot, but I think they soon realised any alterations we were going to make would be done with sensitivity and respect for the heritage of'