Nairn Golf Club
Designer: Archie Simpson,
Old Tom Morris, James Braid & Ben Sayers
One of the most hospitable clubs in Scotland, the Nairn Golf Club owes its heritage to a variety of individuals. After its formation in 1887, the club commissioned Archie Simpson, head professional at Royal Aberdeen, to layout their first links. At the invitation of Robert Finlay, Lord Chancellor of Britain, Old Tom Morris completely redesigned and extended the course over property owned by the Earl of Cawdor. Two decades later, James Braid arrived and left what many regard as Nairn’s trademark: the exceptional greens. Finally, Ben Sayers, who famously left his mark on the splendid West Links at North Berwick, added new holes in the 1920’s, before Braid returned once again to have the last word. Aside from a few new tee boxes ahead of the 1999 Walker Cup, little has changed since.
Stretched along the shores of the Moray Firth – which is visible on every hole – the opening run at Nairn parallels the coastline and may at times prove problematic for the right-handed slicer. The par-3 4th is likely to be a favorite here, assuming we can find the heavily guarded punchbowl green. Meanwhile, the 9th is a great short par-4 which requires both precision off the tee and prudence on the approach, before we pay a visit to the 19th century salmon bothy turned halfway house.
Ahead on the back-9, the 13th is one of the sternest holes in Britain. The stout par-4 runs straightaway, but is flanked on both sides by bunkers and impenetrable gorse, not to mention it’s usually played across the wind and to an elevated green. Although it is still a formidable challenge, we find a little relief next on the par-3 14th, where the firth stands as backdrop as the course leads us back to the sea. After hitting your tee shot, be sure to leave your feedback in the suggestion box next to the tee. You’ll find it attached to one of the nearby trees, some 20 feet in the air.
As was alluded to earlier, the putting surfaces at Nairn are rightly considered some of the best in the land. They are hard, true, and fast. They are also well-protected. Use exceptional care on all of the approaches, unless you have a special affinity for deep, revetted bunkers.
With neighbors like Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart, Nairn has a tendency to fly under the radar for some travelers to The Highlands. After sharing a pint with the welcoming membership, however, many would say Nairn not only compliments its illustrious colleagues, but stands firmly right alongside them. No matter where it ranks, one would be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable experience.
Perfect Pairing with golf at Nairn: a visit to Culloden battlefield where in 1746 the forces of the crown under the command of England’s Duke of Cumberland defeated Scots loyal to Bonnie Prince Charles, pretender to the throne, thereby ending the last rebellion for Scottish independence (until Alex Salmond become First Minister of Scotland).
Major Basil Haversham, OBE
Your guide to the greatest golf holidays in Scotland