Overlooking the southern shores of the beautiful Moray Firth, Moray Golf Club offers two traditional Scottish links courses, Moray Old and Moray New. Both courses were created from a wilderness of heather and gorse and similar to the Old Course at St. Andrews, both golf courses at Moray Golf Club start and finish within the town boundaries. While both courses are well-worth experiencing, it is the Moray Old layout, which is the championship test. A very challenging course, seven of its par fours stretch to over 400 yards and each hole has been designed to test the lower handicap player, while at the same time, giving pleasure to all who play the game.
Like many other grand old Scottish links, Moray Old has its roots deeply embedded in the 19th century. Founded in 1889 from a layout designed by Old Tom Morris, the history of Moray Old is somewhat similar to that of its relatively near neighbours, Royal Dornoch and Nairn. The links of Moray New, which shares the same land as its more mature sibling, was founded as a nine-hole course in 1906 and was designed by Sir Henry Cotton. Moray New offers similar gorse-lined fairways and was extended to 18 holes in 1979. Today, though quite a bit shorter than the Old Course, its 6,004-yard, par 69 layout, will certainly suit all standards of golfer.
So what about the old course at Moray Golf Club? Though a stern test, it is a fair one, with good shots being rewarded. Its characteristics include gorse lined fairways, deep bunkers and grassy dunes, while its fine links turf invites crisp iron shots to excellent putting surfaces. After a relatively benign opener, the par five, 2nd hole offers the real introduction. With a fairway lined with bunkers, heavy rough and gorse, a straight drive is essential in setting up an approach to a sunken green guarded by out of bounds. Another of the outward gems is the 450-yard par four, 8th hole, which is rated as the most difficult on the course. Aptly named "Heather", the fairway can prove an elusive target, while clever bunkering protects the landing area.
The par-36 inward journey is that little bit longer than the par-35 outward half and starts with a string of five consecutive par fours. The short 10th hole, at little over 300 yards long, is a great birdie opportunity but is followed by what is rated as the second hardest hole on the course. Following a good drive to a generous fairway, your second (or third in some cases) must be on target to negotiate the deep ditch about 20 yards short of the green. Don't be fooled by the par three, 15th hole, which though rated as the easiest on the course, will require good shots to crack par. Fittingly, like on many great courses, the best is saved until last. With out of bounds to the right and bunkers and rough to the left, a good drive is required to set up an approach to the elevated green, where you will probably be thankful for anything less than a three-putt.
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