Inverness Golf Club was formed in 1883 at a meeting of interested parties in the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness. Thereafter, the club members played golf at nearby Longman before moving to Culcabock, erecting their first clubhouse there in 1908. James Braid advised on course changes in 1921 then again in 1937.
Part of the Culcabock course was dug up for agricultural use and given over to the war effort in the early 1940s but the full 18-hole layout was back in play within a year of hostilities ending in 1945. It took another nine years though for the first Highland golfers to stride the fairways on the Sabbath when the local Council permitted play on a Sunday!
According to Frank Pennink's Choice of Golf Courses, Inverness is: "Home of left-handers in Scotland, there being forty or fifty members who play 'the wrong way round'. At one time there were so many that the boxes were placed on the left side of the tees! The reason for this is that 'shinty' flourishes in these parts - a form of hockey, allowing a full swing on either flank."
Located only one-mile south east of the city centre, Inverness is a parkland course that has been used in the past to hold the Northern Open for Scottish golf professionals. The overall yardage is 6,256 yards, configured as five lengthy par threes, eleven par fours and just two short par fives, both of which are played early in the round.
A main road intersects the course and the Mill Burn comes into play on several holes. From the 12th tee, there are outstanding views over Inverness to Kessock Bridge and beyond to the Black Isle.
The signature hole on the course is the long par four, 475- yard, 14th called “Midmills” which requires length off the tee followed by accuracy with an approach to a green which has a very narrow entrance.
The last hole, “Deoch an Doruis” – translated as “a drink at the door” – is another long par four, measuring 461 yards, which is one of the finest finishing holes in the North of Scotland. A par here makes the refreshment to follow at the 19th hole all the more palatable.
I returned with a golfing sidekick to play here a couple of years after I’d first played on my own as I wanted feedback from him on the merits of Inverness as a Scottish Top100 track – absolutely no doubts in his (or my) mind but it’s always nice to double check with someone who’s been around and knows what’s good/bad/indifferent.
Plenty of the good to be found here, actually, especially on the two loops of holes from 6 to 10 then 11 to 15.
I rarely mention clubhouse facilities – as this is a website about golf courses, after all – but Inverness boasts one of the biggest, best-appointed buildings in the country, with service second to none when we bowled in unannounced for a bite to eat during a busy Sunday lunchtime service.
On the golfing front, I only wish the club had a little more land to play with so they could remove the need for the 17th tee box to be positioned 100 yards back down the side of the 16th fairway, meaning tee shots then have to fly over the green just played but that’s a minor criticism of a lush, well-groomed course.
The routing of the opening five holes at Inverness Golf Club is not exactly inspirational as they make their way back and forward, side by side, on level ground in front of the clubhouse. All that changes at the 6th though, as the hole doglegs down to the left to a green protected by a fast flowing burn and the round really got under way from here.
The next three holes are played over terrain that pleasantly rises and falls (with water to be avoided again) before the 10th takes you to the main road where the next five holes are played out on the other side. The 12th is a marvellous driving hole (unfortunately, the tree foliage to the right now obscures most of the views over the city) and both short holes during this loop are very good (I loved the two coffin bunkers to the left of the 15th green).
The closing trio of holes are played back on the other side of the road and the final hole presents itself as a daunting finish to the round with its two large inviting bunkers either side of the 18th green. The greens were in excellent shape when I played (even though it poured with rain for most of the round) and both fairway and greenside bunkers were in truly exceptional condition. A well manicured course measuring just under 5,800 yards from the yellow tees for a par of 67 that will take some good golf to match.