Founded in 1802 to house and employ those affected by the Highland clearances, Hopeman lies on the southern shores of the Moray Firth. A little over a century after the village was formed, Hopeman Golf Club came into being and its links course has been in use since 1909, only doubling in size to an 18-hole layout in 1995. Moray pro Charles Neaves laid out the original nine holes with another professional from the same club, J. N. McKenzie, adding the additional nine.
Nowadays, the course measures a modest 5,624 yards from the back markers, with gorse and broom fringed fairways playing to a collective par of 68. It’s stating the obvious to say that accuracy, and not power, is all-important here. There’s only one par five on the scorecard (at the 517-yard, left doglegged 4th) and that hole has only been extended to a three-shotter in recent years.
Holes of note include both par threes on the front nine, where the 171-yard 3rd shares a double green with the 6th and the 193-yard 7th plays to a burn-protected green. Short par fours around the turn (at the uphill 9th and downhill 10th) are definite birdie opportunities whilst the 362-yard 11th ("Warren") must be one of the most rumpled fairways in Scottish golf, with what looks like a herd of small elephants buried in shallow graves beneath the fairway.Undoubtedly, Hopeman’s signature hole is “The Prieshach,” at the par three 12th. Measuring only 150 yards, the hole plays from an elevated tee position with panoramic views of the Firth to a green nestled over 100 feet below in Clashach Cove. Described by Honorary President Paul Lawrie as one of the best short holes he’s ever played, it’s a little beauty that's worth paying the green fee for on its own.
Hopeman is a straightforward, honest links with one outstanding hole. It has gorse close to many of the narrow fairways and a lot of balls find their way in there. Everything that has been written about the 12th hole is true. There is a fairly similar gem of a par three along the coast at Royal Tarlair, The difference is that the remainder of the course there at Macduff has little to offer whereas at Hopeman there is a great deal to enjoy.
Played today in lovely sunny conditions, and as per much of this trip we played in spendid isolation. From this site and numerous pub recommendations I felt that I knew Hopeman well already. Well I was wrong... after the great start the newer holes are more enjoyable than expected on fast links turf with bounding heather, the iconic 12th was fun yet a bit of an interruption to the round. Hopeman isn't championship golf, but if you are looking for links turf, great views, fun golf and a friendly club look no further. Once again a 4.5 star rating, but too many similar 300 yd holes mitigate against the higher rating. Superb, fun holiday golf treat yourself !
Hopeman is an enthralling clifftop links that just gets better and better as the round progresses, both in terms of the golf and the location.
The 18 holes move gradually closer and closer to the sea and as the terrain improves so does the quality of the holes. That’s not to say they are poor to start off with because Hopeman is a splendid golf course and one I’m sure their members must be extremely proud of. The condition of the greens was the best that we played on a trip that consisted of nine courses, one of which was an Open Championship links plus several other notable venues.
The Club was founded in 1909 as a nine-hole course before being extended to 18 in 1985. Par is 68 with a yardage of 5,624 from the white markers. The course is playable for all but still asks good golfing questions of the more accomplished player.
The majority of holes are flanked on both sides by gorse and straight driving is essential if you are to score well around this charming yet demanding layout. There’s a nice mix of holes, however, the course retains a largely consistent feel to it. The only holes that are slightly out of kilter to the rest are the long fourth and the adjacent sixth. Both of these are played over less interesting ground where trees come into play but these are quickly forgotten as you enjoy the delights of the excellent back-nine.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
I’ve had Hopeman on my “must play” list for a while and I’m really glad I finally got a chance to play it last week. I’d anticipated something of a sleepy little clubhouse and a sedate wee course to match but the reality was very different as I discovered a lounge bar area which was really buzzing with a mixed crowd of seniors and a terrific 18-hole course that was way better than I might have expected.
The first two holes are the original openers from when the course was brought into play as a 9-hole affair in 1909, routed away from the clubhouse towards the coast then straight back. The ground is hard and fast, tumbling down from the tee then climbing back up to the green and the wild, natural composition of these holes gets the pulse racing as you look forward to more of the same.
Unfortunately, the expansion of the course to a full 18-hole layout in the mid-1990s resulted in new holes 3 to 6 being brought into play. They’re not great, laid out with flat “grass motorway” fairways on land furthest from the coast, behind the clubhouse, with a really awkward internal out of bounds at number 6 merely emphasising the mediocrity of these four holes.
Still, if a course can get its worst holes out of the way early then there’s still plenty to look forward to and so its turns out here. The 8th hole (the original 4th) is an eye catcher, narrowing sharply as it approaches a green bounded on the left by a lovely low-lying stone wall. Holes 9 and 10 are new and they precede a wickedly undulated fairway on the slightly uphill 11th.
Believe all that you might have read about the famous par three 12th as it’s a brilliant short hole, played from an elevated tee position down into a secluded cove, where the waves crash onto the shore, yards from the green. Holes 15 to 17 are mid-1990s creations, routed along the gorse-clad clifftops that overlook the coastline and the middle par four in this 3-hole stretch, the 377-yard 16th, is a tough nut, doglegging right and uphill to the green.
Expect to be more than a little surprised if you tee it up here for the first time. There’s some remarkably good golf to be played (apart from the pedestrian holes between the 3rd and 6th) and you should certainly enjoy the majority of your round. The course might be seaside in nature but a large proportion of it bears more than a passing resemblance to a links so it’s definitely one for lovers of the ground game. Jim McCann
Played hopeman on a very wet and windy day. The first holes are not as links style as you would expect, but the bunkers and and gorse make up for that. Not only the signature #12, but the whole second 9 is just great. Seaside links on clifftops, with beautiful par 3's and par 5's.