I would go a bit stronger on my recommendation for Brora. If one is in the area to play Castle Stuart and Royal Dornoch, then one should always add Brora to the schedule. Whether Brora becomes the first, middle or last golf course on your trip, it is so much fun to play that it is worth visiting every time one journeys north.
Yes, it is a short course at around 6100 yards and without a strong wind above 20 mph, you will score very well here. So what? Not every golf course needs to mentally stress you on every shot.
The views are so stunning here of the sea that you are likely to be distracted constantly looking towards the water.
Yes, there are sheep on the golf course and sometimes cows as well. I have several very good pictures of my playing partners with large cows in his background.
You see the water as soon as you arrive and you play down to it on the first hole with the second tee essentially on the water. Then you play alongside it as you go out.
This is a course where you will use your short irons a lot, pitching wedge, gap wedge, etc.
The bunkers are not numerous and they are all roughly the same size. But given their relatively small circumference, if you find them, you will likely drop a shot. However, given the width of the fairways you should be able to avoid them and with a short iron in your hand you should be able to avoid the greenside bunkers as well.
The greens are not overly large and run at normal speed for a links course. They are not difficult to read.
I did very much enjoy the humps and bumps in the fairways as well as the tilt of some of the fairways. The eighth hole is a good example of this as a short par five looking straight at the hills in the distance and the sea to the right. The 12th has similar humps to it.
Some quibble about 18 ending on a par 3 but its a pretty good one. It is not in the same league as the 18th at Pasatiempo but it is a nice way to finish off a match to this slightly uphill, long par 3.
On my personal rating scale, I gave it high marks for playability and memorability due to the joy it evokes.
I thought the best holes were 3 ( a longer par 4 along the water), 6 ( a lovely mid-length par 3 with a well guarded green), 7 (the burn is a good test to avoid going right on your second), 9 (short par 3 playing to the corner of the course with the sea behind and to the right), 11, 12 (well bunkered par 4), and 13 (a short 125 yard well bunkered downhill par 3 looking back toward the water surrounded by five bunkers and a burn in front).
The course loses a bit of steam coming in from there although the second shot into the uphill green at the short 16th is a lot of fun and the drive must be well placed on 17 to have a good shot into another slightly raised green on this hole.
If one were to critique Brora, one could ask why it does not have more bunkers, both in the fairway and near the greens given that it does not have length as its defense. I think because it often plays when there is a strong wind present. I have yet to have an overly strong wind the many times I have played it, but I can visualize what the wind in that open air (no trees) would do to a ball that is hit high. The other critique could be that the par fives are too short, but although they seem a bit straightforward, there are interesting land features such as the mounding and fall-off as you approach the green on the 11th.
There are few courses that can spark real joy when playing them. Brora is one of them. You will likely play to your index or even better, you will laugh and have fun, and you will forever remember those views.
Date: September 29, 2019