DORNOCH GOLF CLUB
Tom Morris, John Sutherland, Donald Ross
However good Brora, Nairn or Golspie may be, the jewel
in the Highland golfing crown is definitely Royal Dornoch Golf Club. Universally
rated as being in the world's top 20 golf courses, Royal Dornoch is unique
among the great links of Scotland in that it has never hosted the British
Open. Not a reflection of its quality, this is solely because of Dornoch's
remote location. However remote it may be though, this links is a must
play course on any golfing trip to Scotland.
Though golf at Dornoch we are reliably told, dates back to 1616, Royal
Dornoch Golf Club itself is quite young in comparison with some other
Scottish clubs. In 1877, the Sutherland Golfing Society applied for permission
to play golf over the Dornoch Links. Permission was granted on November
9th and so the Dornoch Golf Club was born. It was not until 1906, with
a decree by King Edward VII, that the club became known as Royal Dornoch
Golf Club. Old Tom Morris was invited to design "nine proper golf holes"
in 1886 and with the addition of a further nine holes, Dornoch boasted
an 18-hole layout of 5,960 yards by 1904. The course has since undergone
minor changes with respect to bunker positions and length and now offers
a championship challenge of 6,732 yards.
The quality of Royal Dornoch is immediately apparent from the array of
golfers, who have graced its fairways. Vardon, Locke, Norman, Crenshaw
and Watson are among the many to have been impressed with the challenge.
When Tom Watson played the course prior to winning the Open at Muirfield
in 1980, he remarked that the experience was "the most fun I've ever
had on a golf course". Even given Dornoch's remote location, it is
perhaps unjust that the only major championship hosted here was the British
Amateur in 1985, when Jose Maria Olazabal came to Royal Dornoch in defence
of his title. Unfortunately though, he caught the wind in an evil mood
and shot an opening round of 86.
A stiff but fair test of golf, Royal Dornoch rewards the thinker on top
of their game and while the visitor rarely uses the championship layout,
the regular 6,514-yard layout is more than a match for most. The greens
are large and undulating and while there is room off the tee, the placement
of your drive deserves much thought due to the wind and pin positions.
In the mould of most traditional links, the course goes practically straight
out and back, with the angle changing subtly on each hole. And while little
is hidden at Royal Dornoch, it requires a golfer playing at their best
to see it all and adjust their strategy accordingly.
Skibo Castle (10 minutes), Morangie
House Hotel (15 minutes), Culloden
House (70 minutes), Swallow
Kingsmills Hotel (70 minutes)