In the early 1930s, during a period of high unemployment in the herring fishing industry, the local council at Buckpool decided to address this problem by constructing a golf course on farmland close to the town centre.
One of the Great Triumvirate, five-time Open champion J.H. Taylor, was tasked with laying out the new 18-hole course and although a few minor modifications have been made down the years, it’s his design that’s still in operation today.
Although the course occupies a coastal setting on a raised marine platform, with splendid views along the Moray Firth, it’s not a true links as such. Nevertheless, the normally firm and fast conditions of Buckpool’s greens and fairways are an absolute delight.
There are only a couple of par fives on the scorecard, with par for the course set at 70 and a standard scratch mark of 69. Feature holes include short par fours on the back nine at the 11th, 12th and 17th, whilst the 400-yard 18th is a demanding home hole, playing to a treacherous, two-tiered green.
There’s a homespun feel to Buckpool Golf Sports & Social Club (to give it the full title from the club’s logo) and it looks like it doubles up as a community centre/social club for locals who don’t necessarily have an interest in golf.
There’s also a snooker room and two squash courts within the clubhouse building and there was a ladies’ fitness class in full swing as I arrived at the office before heading out onto the course.
It’s not classified as a links course but Buckpool has all the firm and fast attributes you’d like to have associated with such a layout: slick, bent grass greens, beautifully revetted bunkers and well-defined, gorse-lined fairways.
“Auchintae,” the 445-yard 4th, plays to a wonderful triangular-shaped bathtub green, with the putting surface protected by a brilliantly positioned bunker to the front right hand side of the putting surface and this hole was my favourite on the scorecard.
I didn’t think the semi-blind par threes at either the downhill 6th or the 15th on the edge of the escarpment worked very well; the first short hole could do with more of the obscuring sand dune removed and the second enjoys a far better line of approach from the regular tees.
Apart from those minor moans, I thought Buckpool was a delightful seaside track, a little flat in places at the start and end of both nines, but good use was made of the land in the south east corner of the property when siting the more undulating holes.
Well worth a look if you’re planning to visit some “second tier” courses along this coastline – and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t really expect to find the remnants of a J.H. Taylor track here, would you?