Last Wednesday our course super Neil Ballingall, and self, drove north 3 hours to Nairn Golf Club where we played 36 holes on a superb links course. Nairn is a bit off the beaten path although many people do play it on their way to or from Dornoch (another hour north). It is certainly worth playing, and if available, take the day ticket and play 36, and enjoy the great soup and lunch in their very modern clubhouse between rounds. The course is right along the sea for the most part, a slice off the tee on the front nine can be played from the beach (it’s a lateral hazard). Great bunkering, greens that are often called “the best greens in Scotland other than the ones at Fairmont”. actually they are considered the best in the UK!
Nairn has a great pedigree as do most courses that have survived since 1887. I wonder if Nairn members know people were golfing in Jamaica 20 years before they opened? Back to Nairn, Robert Findlay founded the course, even 100 years ago it had plenty of out of town members from London and elsewhere. Findlay had Andrew Simpson design the course, then they brought in Old Tom Morris to extend the course over some newly acquired land. Then 20 years later James Braid did his thing (first to break 70), then Ben Sayers came up from North Berwick to put in a few new holes. The Braid came back (this sounds familiar). By 1999 the course had been lengthened to host the Walker Cup. All courses evolve in spite of what some designers say, and Nairn has evolved wonderfully by hosting events throughout its existence.
We played with my old friend and the best Senior player in the Bahamas, Vernon Wells. He and his friends (including Dick Wilson from Nassau) have been members for years and return once of twice every year. I can see why – check out the course on their website, I was too busy putting to take pictures.
The future looks good for Nairn GC, just down the road towards Inverness is the winner of the 2010 new course award, Castle Stuart, ready to open since last year but offical this July. This will bring in many new golfers who will be very surprised to find Nairn and other gems like Lossiemouth or Dunbar – and for the fee at Castle Stuart you can play most of the others, all of them!
We stayed at the Alton Burn Hotel, it’s right on the 16th tee and, if you have a course view room, it adds immensely to your Nairn visit. The owner, chief cook and bottle washer, Martin MacDonald (6 hdcp) joined us for the first 18, after cooking our breakfasts. Great value and memorable part of the charm. Our Golf Concierge at Fairmont St Andrews can help set up your visit to Nairn Golf Club.