Our next stop is a little know golf course extremely far north in the highlands ,about 1.5 hours from Nairn. Royal Dornoch has the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska affording about 20 hours of daylight. We played 36 holes and finished around 8:00pm and you would have thought it was noon by the lights of the sky. Royal Dornoch is the third oldest course in Scotland, and was rated 16th in the world by Golf Magazine in 2011. It lives up to all that and more. The great Donald Ross hails from Dornoch and you can surely see Dornoch’s influence on Donald Ross designs. This place is epic, with holes that literally run along the beach. You can play from the beach if you hit it there. The course was designed by Old Tom Morris and still to this day has not changed much. Holes 12-15 are basically unchanged and 14 (named Foxy) has been regarded as one of greatest par 4s in the world. It has no bunkers and really no out of bounds. We played 36 and the conditions were fairly tame, but that did not make scoring any easier. Ben Crenshaw, after returning to Muirfeld for the 1980 Open, was asked about playing Dornoch, “Let me put it this way, I nearly didn’t come back!” implying he considered staying at Dornoch and not leaving (not even for the Open!). Tom Watson said “It’s the most fun I ever had playing golf.” Dornoch is old, celebrating it’s 4 centennial, and quirky, as is many of the Old Tom Morris golf courses in Scotland. But if you can venture that far north it is well worth it. I would say if you journey to Scotland make the pilgrimage to Dornoch and play a golf course like it was nearly 400 years ago. You’ll feel like you stepped back in time.
Next Stop: Castle Stuart, the home of the Scottish Open.
-The Golf Insomniac