Situated on the shores of the Moray Firth, Nairn Dunbar Golf Club boasts one of Scotland's most highly rated championship links courses and represents a formidable challenge, with its gorse and whin lined fairways. May 24th 1899 was the date that the first ball was struck at Nairn Dunbar by Sir Alexander Dunbar of Boath, who gave his name and as importantly, sixty acres of land to the club. Over a century on from that day, Nairn Dunbar stands as an excellent championship links course, as renowned for its openness and friendliness as it is for its technical challenge.
Around the time of the opening, an Inverness journalist wrote of Nairn Dunbar: "It abounds in all the natural hazards so desirable in the game of golf". Well, little has changed in the intervening years and today, silver birch, winding waterways, gorse and whin bushes, willows, ditches, the Minister's Loch and sand dunes all add to the challenge and enjoyment derived from playing here. Following the addition of three new holes in 1994, the course has been significantly enhanced and lengthened to a substantial 6,765 yards from the back tees. Nairn Dunbar continues to enjoy a growing reputation and has hosted many important events, including three Northern Open Professional Championships and the 2001 Scottish Amateur Championship.
Playing from a raised tee and offering great views over the Moray Firth, the 418-yard opener is a none-too easy introduction to what is required at Nairn Dunbar and you should take care to avoid the deep bunker on the right side of the fairway, from where getting home in two is almost unthinkable. The par four, 4th hole, flanked by trees to the right and gorse to the left, is a demanding test, while the 453-yard, par four, 5th hole, with its long and very narrow green, is rated as the hardest on the course. Many consider the 7th hole to be the best and most aesthetically pleasing on the course. Encircled by gorse and trees and with the Minister's Loch awaiting your angled drive, your approach is to a raised green, well guarded by bunkers on either side.
The holes around the turn are impressive and the par five, 9th is the first of the three new holes added to the course in the 1990's. The 10th is an excellent right to left dogleg, which features a water hazard running from the corner of the dogleg all the way to the green, while the 11th hole, played through an attractive funnel of silver birch and pine trees, is a tricky par three. Of the closing six holes, three are par fives, and the first of them is the 529-yard 13th, where the longer hitter must be wary of a meandering burn from the tee. There is a nice mix of par threes, fours and fives over the last few holes and the closing hole, with its rippling fairway, proves a fine finish.
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