Brora - North Scotland - Scotland

Brora Golf Club,
Golf Road,
Brora,
Sutherland,
KW9 6QS,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1408 621417

Brora Golf Club lies just off the A9, about 20 miles north of Dornoch. It's one of the most delightful short road journeys imaginable. The A9 follows the East Coast of Sutherland and skirts around the westerly edge of Loch Fleet before passing through the Highland village of Golspie - where there's another fine course. Grab a glimpse of Dunrobin Castle, where the Duke of Sutherland died in 1833 and then enjoy the coastal views before passing through the village of Doll, where a big cat-like animal was recently spotted. And then, you arrive at Brora, ready for even more excitement.

Scotland has dozens of famous classic links courses but Brora is probably the least well known and this most northerly course really does deserve to be discovered. When Brora Golf Club was founded in 1891 the members played on a nine-hole course and the Secretary of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, John Sutherland, later extended it to 18 holes. J.H. Taylor made further changes following a visit and, in 1923, James Braid was commissioned to redesign Brora and little has changed since.

It's a traditional out and back layout with the opening nine holes hugging the North Sea coastline. We can think of no other course in Scotland which has so many holes playing so close to the sea. What's more, there are no dunes to obscure the magnificent seascape, but the downside is that when the wind blows, you'll have to hold on to your hat. The ground undulates gently and you can expect to encounter the odd wily burn and a series of electric fences, which do a fine job in keeping the grazing animals off the fast Brora greens.

Measuring 6,211 yards from the back tees, Brora is certainly no championship layout, but playing to handicap will be a real achievement, not only because the greens are tough to hit and tough to read, but because it's even tougher to concentrate on your golf in these breathtaking surroundings. When you arrive at the 2nd tee, you'll know what we mean. The tee is sited on a small promontory directly next to the beach and from here you are presented with the most arresting view along the full stretch of the coastline.

If it is good enough for a five-time Open Champion, then everyone should play Brora. The late Peter Thomson visited regularly, proclaiming it to be his favourite course in the world.

There are so many great holes, but the 9th, a 162-yard par three called Sea Hole, is our favourite. It will come as no surprise that it's a visually attractive hole, where the North Sea is a rather large lateral water hazard. The inward holes are solid but less dramatic than the front nine. The closing hole is a tough par three where the tee shot must carry across a deep gulley to a green which seems to be too close to the clubhouse for comfort.

Our message to those pilgrims who are heading to tick Royal Dornoch off their list is this, take your time and add Brora to your itinerary, you will not be disappointed.

Just wild about blustery Brora

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Reviews for Brora

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Description: Brora Golf Club is a fine, natural seaside links. A Highland delicacy to be tasted alongside Royal Dornoch. Brora is one of the jewels in James Braid's crown. Rating: 8.1 out of 10 Reviews: 52
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Richard

A party of 11 golfers from England ventured Northwards in June to experience the long days and unspoilt golf on the links of Brora in the Highlands of Scotland.

I should be clear that Brora is not the refined perfection of relatively nearby Royal Dornoch (which is quite rightly in the top 10 in the world). However, for any golf course fan, it is just as important to play Brora. It is simply so natural; literally in both senses of the word being “derived from nature” (there’s nothing artificial about it at all) and “in tune with the natural world” (the abundance of wildlife is not just the sheep and cows on the course but we also saw rare birds and dolphins!).

The course is an out and back layout with the 1st nine being closest to the beach. The 9th is a lovely short par 3 which feels very remote (this is the most Northerly point on earth I’ve ever played golf!). We played on a beautiful summer’s day and the scenery was stunning. 36 holes felt like 18. I’m sure that it’s not quite so pleasant when the wind blows hard or the clouds roll in, but I would advise that, if you’re visiting Royal Dornoch, to travel a little bit further North to Brora; it won’t cost as much and you’ll be rewarded with a different, yet still wonderful, experience. RdeD

December 23, 2016
8 / 10
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Mariano Martinez de Azagra

Brora was one of the most pleasant surprises of our trip through the Highlands. Although I had read about the quality of this links, the truth is that my experience exceeded expectations by far.

Brora Golf Course - Photo by reviewer

It is a classic links in which the first 9 are away from the clubhouse bordering the sea, while the back nine are located more inland. It is advisable to make a good result in the out nine, since the back are clearly tougher.

There are many lovely holes, but I would mention the short holes 6 and 9 (not so much the 18, an overly complicated finish), 3, 5, 10, 16 and 17.

The course presentation was impeccable, at least when I visited it, in mid-September, and we found the friendliest staff of all the clubs visited so far in Scotland.

In short, an obligation if you visit the Highlands, in my opinion, at a level comparable to Castle Stuart or even Dornoch (even at the risk of heresy to some purist).

December 02, 2016
8 / 10
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4 people found this review helpful

Dan Hare
A little delayed, but having enjoyed reading back the reviews for this course I am prompted to a bit of revisionism for my original 5 ball review. We returned to the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch a couple of years ago as part of the Castle Stuart/Dornoch April deal and Brora was the only playable course on one particular morning where Castle Stuart, Golspie and Skibo were snowed over and Dornoch was completely frozen. We had to stop for snow a couple of times, but all of us loved it. I've had the fortune to play many more classic links since my first visit but I cannot leave Brora out of my personal top 10. The top 100 reviews for Brora and Dornoch seem the most heart felt, and I think that's for a reason - the joy of playing great golf this far North where no-one arrives by accident. Brora is as good as it gets, and I have to disagree with my earlier self and our august editor and give it a six ball review.
July 06, 2015
10 / 10
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Brian Ward
Brora was the venue for the opening round of our recent Highlands tour and following an eight hour car journey all aches and pains were soon forgotten as we stepped out onto this glorious old links. If you were to try to describe what it is that makes a traditional natural links then Brora would tick every box. The course is laid out between the beach and the railway (although you only notice the tracks on two holes), running out along the shore and then back inland. Humps, hollows, snaking burns and a couple of blind drives all add up to a fantastic round of golf. Electric fences circle every green protecting them from the wandering sheep and cattle that can occasionally be spotted in the longer rough. Most holes on the front nine are memorable and on the back nine the finish is particularly good. I loved the approach to the elevated green on 16 and the tough 17th, at 438 yards, offers some of the best views the course has to offer. James Braid designed the par threes to run in four different directions and all are excellent. The 190 yard 6th is played over a ridge to a well bunkered raised green, the 9th is beautifully situated on the edge of the beach and the pretty 125 yard 13th called "Snake" sits beyond a meandering burn. This hole is shown on the front of the scorecard as a reproduction of an old painting which hangs in the clubhouse. The round finishes with a difficult 200 yard par three over a valley beneath the clubhouse windows. If only it was a bit nearer to home. Brian W
June 04, 2015
8 / 10
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Keith Baxter
June 08, 2015
KB on the tee at Brora Golf ClubI played with Brian at Brora and also endured the mammoth car journey. It had rained most of the day, but when we arrived it was dry with sunny intervals, although a crosswind was blowing hard across the links. Conditions were tough but what an engaging course on which to start a Highlands tour. Brora Golf Week had just concluded a couple of days before we arrived and the course was in great shape – fairways were firm and fast and the rough was not too punishing as grass growth had slowed due to the cold May weather. I simply loved the entire experience and agree with Brian’s five-ball rating for the course. I thought the finishing few holes (even the par three closer) were very strong. I know the Highlands is a long way for most golfers to travel, but with so many great courses up here I was really surprised to find the fairways so empty. Do not exclude Brora from any Highlands itinerary. It has taken me 25 years to play Brora but it won’t be 25 years before I return. Keith Baxter
dan
June 08, 2015
Keith, so glad you got to play there! =) Brora, Dornoch and Castle Stuart are a beautiful trio of Links.
David Worley
For many visitors this is the end of the line when it comes to golf; this is understandable as Wick and Reay are quite a distance further north and are not as good as Brora. Here is a traditional links course where most likely you’ll not hear any sounds other than the sea or roaming sheep.

Bunkers are limited in number as the course is totally unprotected from the ever present wind. Brora has five par threes, hence its short length of 5872 yards, and each one runs in a different direction. The first five holes are all par fours. The fourth is a real birdie opportunity being only 325 yards in length.

Eight and nine are the last holes beside the sea with the 9th green being the furthermost point on the course. The 8th is the only par five and the 9th is a delightful par three that plays to a green not so far from the beach. Interestingly, as with the opening hole at Machrihanish, the beach is not out of bounds but is treated as a lateral water hazard.

The 13th is the shortest of the par threes at only 125 yards. The tee shot is slightly uphill and over a valley with gorse and a wandering burn which seems to make distance harder to judge. The 17th is possibly the best hole on the course. This is a hole requiring two accurate draw shots and the avoidance of a nasty bunker almost in the middle of the fairway.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
March 09, 2015
8 / 10
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Tony Gill
March 24, 2015
Brora has 4 par threes and is 6211 yards long.
Tom Sadowski
June 05, 2015
Having played Brora and Wick and all the surrounding many times. I think Brora is a classic but Wick is a GEM. Undiscovered golfing beauty awaits anyone lucky enough to venture to those parts. Scotland you gotta love it for golf.
dan
June 08, 2015
Brora is indeed special, and I would recommend a round at Wick if you are already that far up and can make the day trip.
Derek Haswell
With its insouciant bovines, high-security greens and James Braid provenance Brora is a quaint, quirky and quintessentially traditional experience. But there’s one other “q” adjective that Brora deserves – “quality”. On the way out the well-munched “rough” is far from punitive and most of the par fours are quite short but the rippling fairways, smallish greens (by modern standards) and sparing but shrewd greenside bunkering call for calculated and crisply executed shot-making. The home nine seemed tougher, tighter and longer and reminded me quite a lot of the back nine at Royal Aberdeen (which can never be a bad thing!). I try to resist the temptation of singling out holes but some holes demand a special “shout out” – like the wonderful par 3 6th and the 17th with its elevated tee and snaking fairway to a contoured green (on both these holes I stepped on the tee and instantly said “yep, straight into my top 18 holes”). The par 3 18th is a contender too, but is possibly just a wee bit too difficult to make my favourite 18 (although it might make my back-up course “Masochist Dunes”). One of the surprising things about Brora is the amount of spare room they have to extend many of the holes by taking the tees back (in some cases 60-70yards would seem do-able). That would make the course an almighty challenge but it’s hard to imagine any way this course could be made more fun. I fully acknowledge that my golfing universe is a parochial one. I equally acknowledge that when I finally get round to playing RCD, Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne and the like my allocation of Top 100 “balls” may need some very serious re-calibration but for now Brora gets the full monty of 6 from me! At £25 for a “twilight” (and a pretty flexi one at that!) it’s possibly the best value golf in the Milky Way!
January 17, 2014
10 / 10
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Gustav
Do not get distracted by the cows and sheep (the are hardly ever close to the line of play) and the protective fencing around the greens (it only rarely interferes with play). The course itself has great quality and can be enjoyed as such. The added benefit is that it is not as busy as Dornoch, but the scenery is in the same class, if not the finish or conditioning. If you feel it is on the short side, the club is happy to let you play from the white tees. If the wind is up (as it often is) it might be a decision you regret! Great value, do not miss.
August 31, 2013
8 / 10
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B.G. Donaldson
Our group played Brora recently, the first course of a ten-day tour. It was a great first day. We played the course on a wonderful, mild, sunny afternoon. It was in fine shape and offered excellent views. Yes, a true links experience, from the mild, downill first hole right through to the difficult finishing three, uphill and challenging. We enjoyed a very pleasant light lunch before our round, and we couldn't have been treated nicer. If you are planning a trip to the Highlands, include Brora, by all means. BGD
July 08, 2013
8 / 10
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Ivan
Brora holiday golf at it's best - second time I have had the please of playing the course just fantastic.One of the best set of par 3's anywhere - in 2 rounds used driver to sand wedge. All excellent to look at and great to play.The club also offered excellent valve for money.
June 11, 2013
10 / 10
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Matthew Adams
Having played Golspie in the morning I’m not sure what I expected from Brora. The gap in the rankings suggested a quantum leap in quality but when faced with the Brora links it really impressed. What surprises me most about this course is that it is ranked so lowly. I can only think the reasons for this would be the fairly remote location of this highlands outpost or the fairly Brora Golf Course - Photo by reviewerslow-paced greens. Perhaps the greens at Nairn are what ensure its higher ranking However, this is what gives the course its jaw-droppingly beautiful surroundings with sea on one side and heather-clad hillsides beyond the railway line on the other. However, it is not just a treat for the eyes; the golf on offer is exceptional too provided you can forget the sheep fences surrounding the greens. Certainly, the sheep along with the cattle, rabbits and arctic terns add to the local flavour. Some might say that Braid was blessed with perfect links terrain here and that he only followed what nature had presented him with but by all accounts, that was his great skill. He also made the inland holes more interesting/compelling than those that hug the shore. The inward holes are reminiscent of those at Royal Cinque Ports but are even more beefed up than those found at that wonderful Kent Links, especially the hilltop 16th. Both courses give you that feeling of being somewhere very special for golf. Finishing on a par3 is not that commonplace but seems perfectly in keeping with the quirkiness at Brora. An essential stop on a highlands golf visit.
June 27, 2012
10 / 10
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tom
November 04, 2012

Played Brora a few weeks ago. What a terrific place to play golf - a club not in any way pretentious, with great scenery, very friendly staff and members and a course to match. It might only be par 69 but it sure ain't easy. An excellently conditioned course with firm greens and deep pot bunkers. Good course management is needed throughout all 18-holes. Saw only a few sheep and none of the famous cattle and the electric fences around the greens are of no real hindrance. Make your score going out on the par 35 front nine and then hang on over the last 9-holes which contain several longish par 4's and a 210 yd par 3 at the 18th with an evil deep dip in front of the small raised green. The par 3's all play in different directions - a deliberate James Braid design trait I'm told - and severely contoured small greens are the norm. Also, a big 'well done' to Brora for building some short junior academy holes behind the 1st tee - a splendid initiative to help future golfing generations. Also thanks for without any prompting saying we could "play off any tee you wish" - so much better than the standard 'visitors must play off the yellows' that so many clubs insist on even for low handicapppers. Having played Brora I now see why so many compliments are paid to it and can't wait to return. As at some other courses however, the photographs on the clubs website do not do the course any justice, the course it much better, more interesting and far more undulating than the web-photos suggest. Play Brora if you have the chance and I reckon you will be smiling when you drive away. I was (and I still am).

Michael
November 08, 2012
Played Dornoch & Brora on the same day & while Dornoch is the much superior course we enjoyed Brora more as there is no where we have played that is a more magic place especially in the late summer evenings.