GOLF DIGEST WORLD TOP 100 COURSES
No.6 Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Scotland
Dornoch’s remoteness – in the far north of Scotland, on the dark side of the Grampians, on the same latitude as Alaska – is part of its allure. Driving north from London, when you get to the Scottish border at Gretna Green, you’re only about halfway there – still another five hours or so to go before you’ll reach this ancient Highlands seaside resort town. It was the last place in Scotland where a witch was burnt at the stake and is the birthplace of Donald Ross.
The links is one of Scotland’s oldest – there’s a record of golf at Dornoch from 1616, and the first record of the current club is from 1876. It was here that Ross began his career: from a humble local greenkeeper he went on to design hundreds of courses in his adopted home of America, including timeless classics like Pinehurst and Seminole.
Royal Dornoch had fallen into disrepair between the wars and was largely unknown outside Scotland. It was rediscovered when Richard Tufts, grandson of the founder of Pinehurst, showed an interest and Herbert Warren Wind subsequently published his classic 1964 New Yorker essay, “North to the Links of Dornoch.” Today, travelling north to Dornoch is a semi-religious must-experience for all itinerant golfers.
Dornoch’s front nine meanders along some of the planet’s finest rolling, gorse-strewn linksland, down to the shores of the bay. The course then saunters along the shoreline for six holes before retreating up the hill to the clubhouse. It features some terrific par-3s – if you miss the green, the second shot to the short second hole is the toughest on the course – and is awash in architectural details such as the classic raised, domed greens that became such a trademark of Ross’ work.
Wrote Wind: “I found Dornoch all I had hoped it would be – a thoroughly modern, old links with that rare equipoise of charm and character that only the great courses possess.”
£60-£120 ($120-$250) depending on season.
Royal Dornoch Golf Club
Golf Road, Dornoch
Scotland IV25 3LW
+44 (0)1862 810219 Ext.1