Located an hour north of Inverness, Dornoch is a long trek, a good four hours from Edinburgh and St. Andrews. Dornoch is so far north that it is on the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska.
Due to its location, Royal Dornoch is often overlooked by people planning an inaugural golf trip to Scotland. But that is a big mistake, as this is golf at its purest. The club was formally founded in 1877, but there is record of golf being played at Dornoch since 1616 and it doesn't feel as though it has changed much since then.
It is a classic nine holes out and nine holes back layout, where the wind is your friend for half your round and your foe for the other half. Especially memorable is the 401-yard 16th hole, up hill and directly into the wind. This makes for a very long hole and forces one to be creative by keeping the ball low to the ground and using the hard links fairway to get the requisite yardage off the tee. For North Americans, this is a different game, fun and creative golf.
This course is a real treat that one never tires of, even inspiring Lorne Rubenstein, The Globe and Mail golf columnist to spend three months there in the summer of 2000. At the end of his stay, he wrote a book entitled "A Season in Dornoch" about his experience. It is a great read about both golf and life in the Highlands.
At this point in our trip, this is our favourite course.
Next posting: Royal Golf Hotel, located 50 yds from Royal Dornoch's first tee.
The flags represent the nationalities of the guests at the club, a nice welcome
The front of the scorecard
Hole #2, a par-3 that Tom Watson called the hardest 2nd shot on the course
Highest point of the course offers a great view
It is either long arms or hit it backwards
Bunker on the right, swale on the left and a green sloping downhill, a delicate putt
The golfer looks like he is putting from the edge of the cliff
Our caddy Hamish, a 52-year member who knew a thing or two about the course