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Easter Ross
The Golf Courses


Tain has an excellent golf course. It lies along the shore of the Dornoch Firth, and is within five minutes easy walk of the town and of the railway station. Other towns have frequently to provide courses at great expense, but Tain has always had suitable land of its own, the Royal Burgh having been for centuries an extensive land owner. If it should develop into a popular and crowded golfing resort, it has in the Morrich More ample provision for half a dozen additional courses. It is interesting to observe that in that case play could be brought to within two miles of the famous Dornoch links, though the journey from Tain by rail is considerably over forty miles.

The present course was laid out in 1890 by old Tom Morris of St. Andrews. Some slight alterations were made in 1912, so as to bring the starting point nearer the town. All the best putting greens are according to the original lie of the ground, improved by sanding and rolling. The excellent quality of the turf on the coast is shown by its being in great demand for bowling greens. The hazards, which are many and varied, are almost entirely natural. Beyond the limits of good play they comprise bents, broom, and whins, while elsewhere there are numerous well-placed sand bunkers. The undulating character of the ground affords interesting problems to the finished golfer in regard to stance and line. At the starting and finishing holes, the windings of the Tain river supply situations calculated to test the nerve of any player.

The Clubhouse, conspicuous from the railway, stands on a picturesque mound close to the bank of the river. Built in 1912, it has spacious locker rooms for gentlemen and ladies, and a large octagonal dining room which is a feature of the building. During the summer and autumn it is well patronised by the sporting tenants from the surrounding districts, who often travel long distances by motor for the pleasure of a game without over-crowding and under the best conditions.

The following is a more particular description of the various holes :—

First (360 yds).—From the first tee at the Clubhouse, an easy drive over the old river bed carries to a stretch of rising ground, from which an iron reaches the green. There is a belt of rushes to the right for a sliced drive, and a public road and wire fence sixty yards) from the green must be carried by the second shot.

Second (290 yds).—“The River.” The drive should clear a wide expanse of rough ground and land the ball on low lying turf by the river. Even here the ground is undulating and the stance not always normal, which often makes the second stroke a trying one for the novice. The green lies immediately beyond the river and is well guarded all round by hazards—a very interesting hole.

Third (360 yds.).—“The Knowe” The drive is over a formidable bunker, and for the player who pulls, is a very sporting shot over a bend of the river as well. The second has to carry a ravine 120 yards broad in order to land the ball on the Knowe, where the green is. Unless this is done, the player is left with a blind approach from 15 feet below the hole.

Fourth (500 yds.).—“The Long.” A recently formed hole, this is probably the least characteristic of the course. The lies are irregular, the turf allows little run to the ball, and the green is tricky.

Fifth (140 yds.).—A topped ball is fatal at this hole as there is a deep ditch 50 yards from the tee, otherwise there are no difficulties for a straight ball. It has been played in one by a lady.

Sixth (310 yds.).—“The Bunker.1’ The green is nicely guarded by a sand bunker in the face of some rising ground. As the green almost touches the bunker and slopes away from it, an accurate approach shot is necessary.

Seventh (300 yds.).—“The Morrich.” This, at right angles to the last, is a pleasant one for the beginner. He has only to carry the bunker last mentioned in order to find an unlimited stretch of easy turf before him. The long driver on the other hand, should he slice, may find himself out of bounds or in ruts to the right.

Eighth (160 yds.).—“The Short.” Here the putting green is partially covered by a steep bank on the left. Short balls to the right are badly punished in whins. The situation is novel and interesting.

Ninth (355 yds.).—“The Desert.” This hole presents no difficulty except that the drive must be good, in order that the second may carry a double line of hillocks and bunkers 100 yards short of the green, which is the most open of any on the course.

Tenth (320 yds.).—“The Garden.” Somewhat similar, but at right angles to the last. This hole has a bunker and wire fence extending right across in front of the green, which is prettily placed and sufficiently guarded.

Eleventh (360 yds).—“ The Alps.” A fascinating hole by the sea in a cupped green surrounded by hills. The position of this hole is marked by two prominent hills between which the approach shot has to be played. A four at this hole must always give pleasure.

Twelfth (210 yds.).—“The Plaids.” A good drive is required to take one to this green which is upon rising ground. Beyond is out of bounds, but a wire fence with a close meshed net prevents a low ball from running over.

Thirteenth (315 yds.).—“The Kelpie” is so called from the extensive water hazard to be found there in winter. It is dry in summer. To clear this requires a drive of 120 yards on to the opposite ridge. A well placed ball gets an excellent lie and the green with a slope against the shot is an easy one to approach.

Fourteenth (400 yds.).—“The Well.” Though fairly long, this is probably the easiest hole on the course. The lies are all good and the ground level, and though the green is picturesquely situated and well protected, “ Bogie ” figures should always be obtained.

Fifteenth (315 yds.).—“The Braehead.” This hole is parallel to No. 3. The ravine 120 yards wide has to be carried from the tee. There are numerous sand hollows short of the green to be avoided. If the green is overrun the result is disaster, as the ball only comes to rest in bad country 25 feet below.

Sixteenth (150 yds.)—“The Burn.” This is one of the prettiest of short holes. The flag is fully in sight on a beautiful green far below the level of the tee, but closely guarded on three sides by the river. Every chance is given the player to obtain a 2, but a bad ball of almost any description brings deserved punishment.

Seventeenth (180 yds.).—This hole is somewhat similar to the sixteenth, the tee being upon the edge of a high bank with the green in view below. A double bend of the river has to be carried by the drive. The stroke must be played judiciously, as a ball over running the green may find itself in a bunker or in the river.

Eighteenth (300 yds.)—Except for short drives which are not straight, the home hole presents no difficulty. The green is large and level, and the hazards are not formidable unless the player makes them so.

The fifth, eighth, sixteenth, and seventeenth holes have each been played in one stroke. The second hole has been played once only in two. Bogey for the course is 80. The amateur record is 72. There is no professional record at present.

In regard to the course generally, it may be remarked that it enjoys a singular freedom from wind and rain which seem to expend themselves upon the surrounding hills.

There are few days in the year when play is impossible to the enthusiast. The sandy soil and smooth turf makes walking at all times dry and pleasant. The scenery is varied and beautiful and the forms and colours of the surrounding hills distinct and harmonious.


This Course is situated on the north shore of the Cromarty Firth, directly opposite Cromarty. It serves the people of the parishes of Cromarty and Nigg, on the south and north sides of the Firth. It is reached by ferry from Cromarty (ten minutes) or by conveyance from Nigg Station (five miles). The course, originally a private 9-hole one, was extended to 18-hole about three years ago. It is now controlled by the Castlecraig Golf Club consisting of about eighty members. During the months from Spring to Autumn when the fleet is stationed at Cromarty and Invergordon it is much frequented by the officers. There is a convenient little Clubhouse fitted with lockers. The course is an excellent one, and is capable of great development and improvement. The soil is sandy and inclined to moss, making the surface rather soft. The greens are excellent and have been formed from the natural turf, and are good evidence of what can be made of it by care and attention. The holes provide plenty of variety, both with regard to length and difficulty. There are two splendid short holes, surrounded by natural hazards, a ditch having to be crossed in each case. About eight of the holes may be reached by the long player with two strokes, but for the average player they mean three. Three of the holes are three shot holes, the others drive and iron or drive and pitch. The hazards throughout are natural, there being only one or two artificial bunkers. They consist of hillocks, ditches, sandy patches with bent and rough ground usually to punish the unwary player who leaves the fairway.

To take the holes in detail—the first hole is a three shot hole for the ordinary player, but may be reached by two extra good strokes. The fairway lies over undulating country with a wide sandy gully to trap a topped drive. The second or Sea Hole is a plateau, guarded in front by a deep gully, while beyond lies the beach. It can be reached by a drive and short pitch. The third and fourth are new holes and still rather rough, but promise to become splendid holes. Here straight driving is essential as rough country lies on either side. The third or Quarry Hole usually requires three strokes, and the drive must be carefully placed clear of a long ravine extending in the direction of the hole. Going to the fourth, rough ground and a road have to be carried from the tee, after which the passage is easy. The green lies on a low plateau. The fifth or Spion Kop, is one of the familiar kind where the green lies on the top of a steep hill or escarpment. This escarpment is the line of the old beach when the sea stood higher than it is at present. On the way to it the player has to carry a fairly high hill with his drive, and at the same time avoid a quarry on the right. The sixth is the Short Hole, a mashie shot over a deep hollow and ditch with the green on the top of the bank beyond. At the seventh once more a ridge has to be crossed with the second. The eighth is flat, but two ditches have to be crossed on the way. At the ninth a ridge must be carried with the second, after which the green is within easy pitching distance. The outward half extends to 2600 yards, and the Bogey score is 40.

Coming home, the way to the tenth hole lies over a series of hillocks with a burn on the right all the way. Three shots are usually necessary to reach the green. The eleventh, a short hole, is a tricky iron shot with a ditch in front and on the left, a wall on the right, and rough ground beyond. The twelfth is a drive and pitch with a burn to trap a topped drive. At the thirteenth or long hole we descend the old coast line and reach the older part of the course, where the ground is firmer. A big natural bunker has to be carried with the second shot. The fourteenth hole lies in a cup and provides an admirable approach shot. At the fifteenth and sixteenth we again cross the burn. The sixteenth green is an undulating one on the side of a hill and requires a carefully placed approach if the succeeding put is to stay near the hole. The seventeenth may be reached with a good drive. The last hole lies over undulating ground, the green itself being in a wide hollow near the Clubhouse. The inward half is 2455 yards in length making the total length 5055 yards or just under three miles. The Bogey home is 40, making the Bogey for the round 80.

An account of this admirable course would be incomplete without at least a reference to the magnificent view, which embraces a considerable part of the Moray Firth coast, from the Binn Hill of Cullen in Banffshire to Nairn, and the Cromarty Fjrth to the foot of Ben Wyvis.


The Tarbat Golf Club is of comparatively recent origin having been formed in 1909. Its membership, as is to be expected, is small, but what the Club lacks in numbers it makes up for by the enthusiasm displayed for the Royal and Ancient Game. During the season, however, the Course is well patronised by summer visitors who are attracted to it in annually increasing numbers.

The Tarbat Golf Course is laid out on high ground above the picturesque, old world fishing village of Portmahomack, where excellent but somewhat limited accommodation can be obtained. The country is of the true golfing character abounding in natural hazards, and covered with fine springy turf. In laying out the course, it may be mentioned that no bunkers had to be constructed. All that were necessary were already there in abundance. There are no really long holes, but all are of a highly sporting character, and each presents its own special difficulties. Thus it takes a really capable player to get “up” on the Colonel.

The Bogey score for the nine holes is 36, and this it may be said has rarely been accomplished.

Originally a 6-hole course it was afterwards, through the kindness of Mr Mackenzie, Bindal, who gave additional ground for the purpose, extended to nine holes. On both occasions the plans were drawn up by Mr John Sutherland, the energetic secretary of the Royal Dornoch, and when this has been said it may be taken for granted that the very best possible use was made of the ground available.

The first hole, 265 yards, is a bogey four, and with straight hitting presents no difficulties; but a pulled shot lies out of bounds, while a slice sends the ball into country abounding in uninviting lies from which recovery is difficult.

The second is a short blind hole situated at the bottom of a saucershaped depression surrounded by benty hillocks. A clean hit mashie or mid-iron shot should find the green, but if not trouble is in store.

The third—also a blind hole—is 275 yards in length. A pulled tee shot here goes out of bounds, or, short of that, lies in very difficult benty country ; but if this be avoided the fortunate player should get down in four.

The fourth can be reached with a good cleek or sammy shot, but as the green is perched on a hillock and slopes away from the tee, it frequently happens that the ball overruns the green into undesirable country. In front this green is guarded by two gaping sand bunkers and on either side are benty slopes very difficult to negotiate.

The fifth is 280 yards in length, and the green lies alongside the churchyard wall. It thus sometimes happens that the mighty hitter has to search for his ball amongst the tombs of his ancestors. The bogey of this hole is four.

The sixth and seventh are each about 285 yards, and both are well guarded by natural hazards, so that to get down in five at either of them requires accurate play.

The eighth is a short hole, 120 yards, but a very tricky one. Situated on the top of a high plateau it is guarded in front and behind by huge sandpits from which recovery is very difficult. On either hand are steep-sloping benty sides, so that the unlucky player who fails to find the green with his mashie may make an appalling addition to his score.

The line to the ninth lies over most undesirable country, and this hole is most safely played by a dog’s leg to the right. With care the green can be reached in two, but a pulled shot finds the most fatal country on the whole course, disused gravel pits diversified with whins. But even when the green is reached one’s troubles are far from ended. On account of its undulating character, a player frequently has the mortification of spoiling an otherwise good score by the astounding number of putts he takes on this unlucky green.

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