Northern Scotland-Day 3: Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Royal Dornoch LogoWe have now traveled some 50 miles north of Loch Ness some 8 degrees below the Arctic Circle and it was not in search of the monster of the deep but rather to visit and play one of the most mystical golf destinations in the world the Royal Dornoch Golf Club.  It was the birthplace of Donald Ross, one of America’s most distinguished course designers, who learned his trade playing the original version of the course in the 1890’s and then studied under Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews before emigrating to the United States in 1899.  Ross’s body of work is a testimony to the influence of Scottish links courses during the Golden Age of course design in the first 30 years of the 20th century.  His fame in turn drew attention back to this hallowed course that provided the underpinnings of his genius.

Dornoch MemorabiliaThis collage of photos includes some of golf’s greats Ben Crenshaw, Herbert Warren Wind, Peter Alliss, and Tom Watson all of whom recognized the significance of this place in the evolution of golf.

Dornoch Honorary MembersThey all are on this very distinguished list of Honorary Members of the club.

Quaint DornochThis quaint village became a summer refuge to English royalty, rich businessmen, and some of the greatest players of the age at the turn of the century.  No one more important than John Sutherland who helped design the original course with Tom Morris and went on to play in important championships throughout Scotland and write extensively about this place drawing further attention and reverence to what was here.

Dornoch Cathedral StatueThis figurine stands in front of the medieval age Dornoch Cathedral whose clergy are given credit for introducing golf to this region.

Carnegie Medal 2Andrew Carnegie built a summer home at Skibo Castle a few miles up the firth and became an important patron serving as Vice President  of the club in 1901.  He presented this ornate shield, which hangs in the clubhouse grill, to the club as the trophy for it’s open competition.

Jail Dornoch StoreNot what you think…..anymore…..was in the 19th century….just a clever retail marketing ploy.

Dornoch Club HouseFull of memorabilia, trophies, and artifacts the clubhouse is nothing short of a museum to the history of this place.

Dornoch OverviewLooking back from the promontory tee on seven you can see the natural parallel routing of the outward holes on the top shelf below the gorse laden dune wall and the returning holes with low dunes and sage grass between them and the sea on the left.

Dornoch 1 BThe table top green on the first hole brings to mind the famous Ross crowned greens of Pinehurst #2.

Dornoch 6The par three sixth is typical of the natural feature of this design.  The green emanates from the foot of the dune wall creating a precarious ledge over a deep revetted bunker.

Dornoch Bunkers 10The bunkering on the short tenth hole are toll booths for shots without sufficient resolve.

Dornoch Flag and DuneThe last ten holes have tight proximity to the beach and dunes which can render shots wayward by the buffeting winds off your left shoulder.

Dornoch 11 Aiming HouseSometimes the aiming points are dictated well away from your intended target lines as the influence of the topography off the dune wall and the natural tempest of waves in the fairway undulations will bring your ball back to the desired position for the correct approach shot.

Dornoch 13The par three thirteenth once again shows the seamless connection of the natural green complex settings to the hazards that bedevil them.

Dornoch 17The seventeenth could be at Pine Valley.  From the top shelf of the tee ball landing area it is a precarious carry across gorse laden dunes to a pulpit green complex further protected by deep bunkers and natural furrowing of the seaside topography.

Dornoch RoadiesOur eight roadies, Barry, Billy, Mish, Heir Rusty, Michael, Tripmeister Jim, Adds, and Flash, sheepishly posing for the standard pregame tourist photo opp.  It is fair to say it did not go well for most of them but there was still plenty of banter over burgers and fish n’ chips in the clubhouse grill after the game.

(Click here to follow our trail to Day 4 at Castle Stuart Golf Links)

For more detail click to see the Royal Dornoch Golf Club Review

July, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s