The predominant colors on a golf course are green, white and blue (if you are playing on a sunny day). But when you get to Royal Dornoch, high in the Scottish Highlands one hour drive from Inverness, there is another color which stands out above all others – yellow. And we don’t just mean normal yellow we are talking fiery, bright, vivid yellow.
The gorse bushes at Royal Dornoch flower at around this time of the year. And with this flowering comes a splash of color that lines all fairways, forms backdrops behind greens and provides colorful obstacles to hit over from the tee.
We saw the gorse visually (and unfortunately with some of our tee shots) and this is one of the memories we will have of Dornoch.
The other is of a very good golf course, one that grows on you and you appreciate the more you think about it. Wide fairways give a sense of calm to your driving but as we found it is not just a matter of hitting the fairway which is important – it is where you hit the fairway. As is the case with so many good courses to hit the fairway alone does not ensure a good score.
Large greens (amongst the largest we have seen) also add to the memory of Dornoch as does the ever present ocean which can be seen from all 18 holes.
This was our best example of a “firm and fast” golf course. Thought was required on all shots and especially when hitting into greens. A number of the greens were raised with severe fall off areas placing a premium on accuracy.
The course starts alongside the Royal Golf Hotel (where we stayed) which has the wonderful address of “First Tee”, Royal Dornoch Golf Club and heads out for 8 holes generally into the prevaiing wind before coming back downwind. If you can hold onto your score early there are a number of birdies chances coming home.
The high point of the golf course is on the 7th tee where you can survey and see most of the holes on the course. This shows you the real shape of the golf course and how it hugs the coastline.
We had local help as we made our way around the course. 75 year old Gordon (who incidentally taught at Geelong Grammar outside of Melbourne many years ago) walked a few holes with us and gave us history and where to hit the ball (not that we always followed his advice).
Driving well is the key to Royal Dornoch and can set up a good round or destroy one. We played the course twice – rounds of complete contrast with accurate long driving in the first round helping our score immeasurably (Gary – 38 points, Dave – 33 points) followed by very average driving in our second round (Gary – 26 points, Dave – 26 points). Admittedly the second round was in summery conditions of 6 degrees and more wind.
We really enjoyed Royal Dornoch and combined with the very friendly staff (Neil Hampton the club secretary was fantastic as were all the other staff including starter Liam who put up the Australian and Canadian flags for our arrival), the lovely scenery and the quaint town we would strongly recommend you make the journey up to the Scottish Highlands. Now that Castle Stuart is open and Nairn around the corner it is truly a good golfing destination.
Shot of the Day
The 7th hole is the number one index hole – a par 4 of 432 metres. Dave was in the rough on the left hand side and hit a “rescue” club 225 metres onto the green. A fantastic shot!
Gary (2 birdies, cumulative 28)
David (0 birdies, cumulative 10)
Tomorrow we head to Castle Stuart, home of the Scottish Open and a new course located close to Inverness Airport. In fact as we flew into Inverness we saw the course laid out before us. Should help us get to the first tee at least! Stay tuned….