Golspie - North Scotland - Scotland

Golspie Golf Club,
Ferry Road,
Golspie,
Sutherland,
KW10 6ST,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1408 633266

Organised golf has been played in this part of the Scottish Highlands for well over a hundred years with Golspie Golf Club formed in 1889 – twelve years after Dornoch, one year before Tain and two years before Brora.

Unlike these other three neighbouring courses, the terrain at Golspie is not exclusively links in nature. The course routing sets out over meadowland, quickly turns back as links along the Dornoch Firth for several holes, veers away from the shore into tree-lined heathland around the turn then returns to parkland and links by the end of the round – quite a combination!

There are birdie opportunities early in the round at the 493-yard 1st hole, named “Backies” and at the 522-yard par five 4th hole, named “Gully”. However, you’re well advised to leave your second shot at the 4th short of the small valley in front of the green – the ball may be playable on the right side but there is heavy rough on the left side and any shot out of here will be played blind to the green.

An interesting pair of short par fours – the 288-yard “Sahara” and 285-yard “Fleet” – are played immediately before and after the par three 6th hole, called “Saucer” then the course enters its heathland section at Ferry Wood, which was laid out by James Braid in 1926. Holes 8 to 10 are located here at the furthest point to the clubhouse and they form a lovely loop, bounded by tall pine trees and deep heather rough.

Holes 11 to 14 are all played over pastureland beside the road that runs down the left of each fairway. The 15th turns back, away from the clubhouse before an old fashioned golfing quirk is chanced upon – back-to-back par threes! “Cairngorms” is the 175-yard 16th hole played to a tiered green with magnificent views across the Firth and Tarbat Ness. It is followed by the 211-yard “Sahara Back” 17th hole which is often played short right by members to avoid sand and rough surrounding the green. A pitch and putt on the large, level green will result in a highly satisfactory par score at this hole.

At a touch over 6,000 yards in length, Golspie does not intimidate the visiting golfer in terms of yardage from tee to green but it does ask a fair number of strategic ball placement questions around the course so keep your thinking cap on when playing here.

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Reviews for Golspie

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Description: Golspie Golf Club is a vintage seaside course with a varied and enjoyable mix of links, heathland and parkland holes. Rating: 6.3 out of 10 Reviews: 20
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Michael Verity

Unique little layout at Golspie that combines Links, Heathland and Parkland holes over just 6000 yards. The heathland holes (8-11) make particular appeal and the linksy holes played tight along the Dornoch firth early on (2-6) are very enjoyable. Coming home on the back nine, holes 16 and 17 are top drawer consecutive par 3’s that ask proper questions of you. A lovely, friendly Golf Club where the locals make you feel warmly welcome.

@essemvee

@MichaelVerity

January 03, 2022
5 / 10
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Maarten

A 36 hole day at Golspie on a perfect October day is a golfing memory I won’t soon forget. If there’s another course with such a natural flow through all sorts of landscapes, with firm and fast rolling links turf, I haven’t played them (but I should!). This is what I imagine Alister Mackenzie meant when he stated it is the architect’s duty to take the golfer on a journey across the highlights of a property, never showcased better than at his masterpiece on the 17 Mile Drive (taking everybody’s word for it unfortunately).

I’m not usually summing up too many individual holes but there’s just a lot of architectural interest on many of them at Golspie. Take the 2nd, which is an excellent par 3 that comes after the gentle opening par 5, with an intimidating teeshot to a well guarded but big multi tiered green laid on the same level as the tees, in a bowl with a Royal Lytham like backdrop of brown stone houses. The next 3 holes all run along the beach and are excellent golf holes. #5 is the pick of the bunch, being a short, even reachable par 4 at 288 yards, but very awkward to pull off that fact, as it narrows towards the sunken green and the landing area is heavily undulated. The more distance you gain, the less your stance will be level. The beach is also very much in play as the fairway and green are perched hard against the edge of the beach, divided by a low wall. A more conservative tee shot gives more comfort and should seal at least a bogey and in most cases a sub 100 yards blind shot which can be hit short and will release towards the green as it falls down steep to a flat green. The green is very receptive, which is a nice compensation for having to negotiate the blind approach. The 6th is a lovely par 3 hit to a green nestled in the base of a dune with another sort of bowlshaped green sloping back to front and left to right, with Ben Bragghie, the megalomaniac statue of the highly impopular late Duke of Sutherland, lurking in the background as a spectator. Maybe that’s why I pulled my teeshot.

The 7th is a transition hole that takes you from the links land to the heathland part of the property. But it’s much more than that. The fairway runs steeply uphill and you need to decide if you want to take the risk of ending up in the gorse when you take out the big dog in order to obtain a view of the green for the approach. It’s just a full or flip wedge to the green, but the green is bonkers. I was a bit bummed we couldn’t stay there for half an hour to try all the different putts, turning 180 degrees and what not.

The heathland part of the course, 8-11 is a wonderful challenging stretch of 2 long par 4s, followed by a picturesque short par 3 and a mid range par 4, all gently flowing through fields of heather and each with their own charm. The course then leaves behind the heathland and opens up again with two more engaging mid length par 4s, followed by a wide par 5 which one must take advantage of and gain a cushion and keep the momentum going for Golspie’s grande finale which is the finishing stretch 15-18, back on links land.

15 is a beast of a par 4 requiring two long shots into a right to left sloping green. The challenge is to remain on the low side but not be too low. Leaking it right will leave an impossible up and down as the ball simply won’t stop. It might be wise to take your medicine if you find your drive out of position, and make sure to leave an easy chip or pitch to the flag, if you’re able to open up the green with a lay up.

The consecutive par 3s 16 and 17 are both exquisite and would not be out of place on any famed links. Both require accurate shot making, have exquisite green complexes based on simple but effective design principles. The 16th green is shaped with a run off on the left and in front of the green, whereby the run off on the front is steep on the left and flat on the right. The green is multi tiered and deeper than it is wide. Once again, there are many fun recovery shots imaginable on this hole.

The 18th is reminiscent of the 15th at Brora with an Alp in the middle of the fairway on a long par 4. The approach is blind but there is not much to be afraid of, besides another excellent green.

It’s not just the course in its entirety that has great variety, also the different segments of the course are varied, in shots required, playing direction, par numbers and the give-and-take game of challenge versus opportunity. The green to tee hole walks are limited to a minimum in as you’d expect of a Braid design. Whilst the routing is not an out and back design, there are no 2 loops of 9 holes but you do meet the clubhouse after 5 and 13 holes respectively. A couple of old members playing in front of us made good use of the first option and went in for rest and a cold one and were still able to enjoy a 5 hole game on their beloved links. Blend all these ingredients and this means we’re looking at a superstrong routing here, in addition to a very natural, unpretentious environment and an anthology of beautiful landscapes.

The only weakness worth mentioning is that the set of par 5s is not particularly strong. While they come at convenient and fitting times in the round, both are very wide, can be reached easily and have little interest compared to the other holes. None of them are bad holes however.

Brora, anno 2021 having reached cult status, receives all the praise but Golspie is hardly behind in quality, playing fun or variety. Its green complexes are very engaging, the ways in which challenge had been created on the short lay-out is very inspiring and the set of 5, each unique par 3’s is of superb quality. Understatement and quirk are constantly taking turns.

If I were ever to apply for an overseas membership in GB&I, this might very well be the place.

MO

December 07, 2021
8 / 10
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BB
December 09, 2021

When visiting the highlands a few years back we passed on Cypress McPoint, in part because of its hybrid nature.

This was clearly a mistake. You’ve changed my thoughts on it & hopefully others will also take note.

Glad you enjoyed it so much - and thank you for ensuring it gets added on to our next trip over to Brora!

Javier Pintos
December 09, 2021

Hola Maarten, many thanks on your words for my review. It is gld we both found the great course Golspie is. As for 17th, the Captain agreed elevated tees would show it way better. Turning it into a 4 would rip off the trees, it would be taking the tees back and making it a true risk/reward short 4. Having tough 15th, 16th and 18th, a little break and birdie chance looks like a great change!

Javier Pintos

This was one of the big surprises of the trip as I knew little about it and decided it to be a complete surprise for me. And it was! A very warm welcome by Jeanette and 9am on a sunny day the round started. The main feature on this course is it blends 3 worlds in one: Ocean, Woods and Heathland and it is done in perfect way as even when changing from one part to the other you still feel you are playing the same course.

It starts with an easy going par 5 with deep rough on the left side to protect cars getting to the Club and then a fantastic stretch from 2nd to 5th by the ocean being short par 4 5th the best one and with the green lower than the fairway which makes it tough to get the exact distance to hit. 6th is a fantastic par 3 sorrounded by a big dune with the tee box by the Ocean. Then 7th completes the getting away from the water to an elevated green being it blind from the tee box, it can be driven but danger on both sides will make you think before deciding. 8th and 9th are the first part of the heathland, two very good par 4s especially the demanding 9th.

10th is a nice short 3 with 2 bunkers in front and then the course gets you back to the heathland and to the ocean being 14th very similar to 1st but with a tougher tee shot protected by bunkers.

You are again near water with 15th and the two consecutive par 3s where 16th is the toughest hole on the course and one of the best I have played in Scotland with its two tier green and nowhere to miss.

17th is a good hole and the only one I would touch: tee boxes need to be elevated to see the green and the layup area for shorter hitters. But once finished I had a chat with the Club Captain and he told me the idea of making it a short 4 with a high risk-reward equation and I believe it is a fantastic idea. There is room elevated for the new tee boxes and the green can be pushed back easily 40-50yds. I really hope they make it because it will add a birdie chance on the very difficult closing stretch.

Finally 18th with a wide open tee shot (maybe the only one on the course) but a very big mound hides the green for a second shot to be blind. A nice touch to a course that ticked every box of what I expect from a course taking into account challenge, creativity, variety, course maintenance and architecture. A great job from James Braid and a place that will open your eyes very wide, it is a must play!

August 28, 2021
8 / 10
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Maarten
December 08, 2021

Hi Javier, good to see you enjoyed Golspie as much as I did. Interesting to learn about the plans regarding the 17th. When you say there's room to push back the green 50 yards, would that involve cutting down the trees? I'm by no means a tree hugger when it comes to golf course architecture, but i would find it a shame if they'd cut down the only four trees on the links part of the course, which provide definition very nicely in my opinion. I do agree with your comment on the elevation of the teeboxes!

Fergal O'Leary

Adding Golspie to my highlands itinerary was one of the easiest, and arguably the best, decision I made. The professional staff at the club will make you feel like a member and you can’t ask for better hospitality. If I lived in the Highlands, this would be the club I’d join with great pleasure.

The diverse terrain and variety both along the coastline and among the pines are an incredible asset which truly sets this course apart from its peers. I found the assortment of links and parkland golf to be a refreshing surprise. After a wide open reachable par 5, the humps and bumps of the links terrain hugging the coastline quickly come into play with the excellent par 3 2nd with a wide and shallow green. Holes 3-5 are within arm’s reach of the North Sea and offer a tough challenge as you navigate semi-blind undulating terrain, especially the short (world class) par 4 5th with a blind elevated green.

The 6th is a par 3 which plays away from the water but is framed beautifully with dunes and is fraught with perfectly placed bunkers surrounding the green. The opening stretch of this hidden gem present very solid golf and begin to tell the story of how underrated this venue is. As you close out the front nine, you’re reminded of how fun golf can be when you don’t always need driver and intelligent shot-making is a premium if you want to make birdies. The courses personality transitions as you migrate towards the pines on the splendid 8th hole, which once again is framed so well. You get the best of everything at this course, including very good playing conditions which is a credit to the hard working greenkeeping crew.

I thoroughly enjoyed the long dog-leg left 9th hole which will test the best of us for an accurate drive before you encounter the most charming par 3 10th hole called “Lochy” which plays over a pond to a well-protected green. This corner of the property introduces you to beautiful heather and healthy tall pine trees to contrast with the opening collection of holes along the beach. This diversity and change in direction reminded me in places of Lundin and Nairn which has similar experiences, also created by James Braid among others.

Holes 11 through 14 are played over benign pastureland near the boundary line and are the least memorable given the setting, but the routing picks up again quickly on the demanding 15th hole which is a very difficult par 4 that is among the very best you’ll play. The 15th green is pitched beautifully from right to left taking advantage of the nearby undulation that takes you up the spectacular par 3 16th which plays straight towards the North Sea. While it is unusual to have two par 3s in a row at the 16th and 17th, they are both truly outstanding and perfectly complement the entire experience. The 16th plays to a multi-tiered perched green that is tough to hit while the 17th is a longer blind tee shot to a larger green area. I was advised to respect these two shorter holes, and it was advice well given. The 18th hole is in the middle of the property with a huge hill in the middle of the fairway so you can’t see the green, but it is a mighty finishing hole located between the 14th & 15th holes (to your left) and the 4th hole (to your right).

There are several holes that play in front of the clubhouse in a north / south direction, and an aerial view of the routing will show you how diverse the golf is at Golspie over different terrain in such proximity. A trip to Golspie should be a priority on any golfing itinerary, as this, and many other reviews are saying. It’s an injustice to this venue to consider it an add-on to a trip to play Royal Dornoch. By itself, it is a wonderful day out. I found the value, the hospitality, the location and the atmosphere to be first class and can’t promote the charming golf enough. It’s so refreshing to be away from the big-name venues and actually feel like you’re a welcomed part of the club, rather than a visitor on a factory conveyor belt. I highly recommend this fascinating and varied golf experience – and I’m confident the future is bright at Golspie Golf Club.

July 08, 2019
8 / 10
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Kevin Henley

Good course with plenty of gorse to stop your ball rolling too far away !!

April 30, 2019
6 / 10
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Ed Battye

Walking off the 1st tee at Golspie towards a featureless, flat fairway it might not be immediately apparent about all the golfing goodness that lies in store and just how terrific it is… but by the time you have reached the turn you are acutely aware of the spectacular nature of this fascinating and varied links.

Golspie may not be love at first sight but it is likely to be an everlasting relationship. James Braid has once again come up with the goods at this fun, and at times quirky, hybrid links course.

From the moment you play into the first green until the time you walk off the exceptional ninth you are in golfing heaven. It’s a stretch of golf that will truly delight. At times it is a rollercoaster ride with shades of two of my other favourite courses; Perranporth in Cornwall and Tenby in South Wales. The land, particularly on the holes that hug the coastline, is simply made for golfing.

Holes two to seven are as linksy as they come - genuine, authentic linksland - before we move into a heathland section of the course which is still in close proximity to the sea and is certainly linksland in my eyes, albeit the holes are lined with heather and pine.

Holes 8 and 9, the latter in particular, are first-class holes. The ninth requires you to shape the drive from right-to-left before playing to a green which is protected by a large depression towards the front-left. It’s a hole that could be placed on many a top golf course and only improve it further.

The inward nine doesn’t quite match the highs of the front-nine but there is still plenty of good and strategic golf to be played, albeit over less linksy land.

The diverse terrain is what makes Golspie so special and stand out from other courses. Despite it having moments of heath and a spell of more meadowland on the inland back-nine I would still class it as a links overall. It doesn’t feature in the book ‘True Links’ but there are several courses included in the publication that aren’t a patch on Golspie for linksy-ness!

With so many top courses in the Scottish Highlands it is easy to overlook a visit to Golspie but, in my opinion, that would be a big error.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

March 04, 2019
6 / 10
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Steve Rossall

Golspie was part of the itinerary for our Highlands golf break and one e best decisions we made was to play here. We arrived on the last Tuesday in June to overcast skies and strong winds. Walking on to the first tee the course was deserted and for the entire round, apart from the green staff, we had the course to ourselves.

This truly is a gem. Even when a short down pour drove us off the course after the 14th t did not spoil the enjoyment. We had a break in the clubhouse for a sandwich and a pint and then returned to the 15th tee to finish our round.

For me the early holes along the beach were the highlight with great views across Dornoch Firth. Keeping it straight, not my forte, is needed here, length does not always help. Get a course planner, look at what lies ahead, chose your club and pray you hit it well.

After a straightforward opening par 5 the course turns towards the sea with a 160 yard par 3. Into the wind I had to flush a rescue club to reach the green. There is then a run of 3 holes right alongside the beach on the left. However, if you bale out to the right you can be in nearly as much trouble.

Our group loved this course and are already talking about a return next year.

July 08, 2017
8 / 10
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Dan Hare

Finally got to play Golspie in early April on a very wet and windy afternoon when not only were we the only people playing, we were the only people at the club ! A nice straight forward opening few holes followed by some strong holes along the beach, then cutting across to avoid the omnipresent Scottish static caravan park and heading to the far end of the course and the more heath land feeling holes. Really like Tinkers camp hole, then we had a run of strong par 4s back into the northerly wind. The finishing holes were in a mini loop and very hard with the wind conditions. The course reminds me of Monifieth in its mixture of holes and quality.

It's easy to overlook Golspie when compared to Dornoch, Brora and Tain but this would be a mistake, it's an excellent course in its own right.4.5 rating if I could, but it's too good for a 4 !

May 10, 2016
6 / 10
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Ben Payne
Possibly the most under-rated course in Scotland. The mix of holes between links and inland should not detract from the fact that both the links and and inland holes are fantastic! Holes 12 to 15 are slightly less interesting than the rest of the course, but altogether a thoroughly enjoyable course, with the bonus of 3 hour or less for a round as opposed to the 5 hours you get for some of the more famous courses in the region.
November 24, 2015
8 / 10
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David Worley
Golspie provides an interesting mixture of links and heathland. Situated between Dornoch to the south and Brora to the north, the course provides wonderful views of the Dornoch Firth and Ben Bhraggie with the statue of the first Duke of Sutherland at the summit.

The first six holes are in the flatter more open part of the course with 3, 4 and 5 running right along the beach. From the 7th hole the course moves towards the holes featuring heather and trees, however the fairways keep a true links feel.

Several holes from the 9th are known as ‘paradise corner’. The 9th in particular requires accurate hitting to stay out of the heather on the 412-yard par four. The 10th is a most attractive par three, ‘Locky’, with two small ponds, heather and bunkers making the 148-yard sloping target seem just a little smaller.

Twelve and thirteen are two further par fours needing straight hitting. The 14th is currently a par four of 425 yards but this may be lengthened to a par five in the future. The remaining holes are in the open around the clubhouse. Whilst 16 and 17 are back to back par threes, 18 is a tough finishing par four of 335 yards.

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 11, 2015
6 / 10
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