It's hard to find much wrong with Nairn; it's conditioning is certainly as good as you'll find anywhere in the country. Ok, so it may not have the towering dunes that give some of the other great links courses their character, but in Nairn's case this is no bad thing as it affords unbroken vistas across the Moray Firth to the Black Isle. And it is the Moray Firth which is the most obvious hazard here, certainly on the front nine, where an errant shot could put you on the beach on any of the first seven holes. On a calm day the sea may only threaten the wildest of tee shots, but the prevailing wind will exploit any weaknesses in your swing and, like a siren, lure you towards the rocks. For the sake of your score, you will be glad to reach the 8th tee and turn inland.
My favourite stretch of holes is 3,4 and 5, where 3 is a shortish par 4 with bunkers on the inside of the dogleg and a green guarded by deep bunkers and contours that will usually repel, but sometime assist. Tip: land it to the right of the flag. The 4th ('bunker') is a gorgeous short par 3, playing back out towards the sea and the 5th, although not the longest par 4 on the course, is one of the toughest, requiring a drive over the beach. If you do have a tendency to slice, hope that the tide is out as you can play from the beach and a heroic par is still possible. Pull that off and you will be recounting it in the bar for a long time afterwards.
The back 9 is tougher, and 12,13 and 14 are probably the pick of the holes coming in. 12 is a long par 4 to an upturned saucer of a raised green. 13 then takes you up the hill to the furthest point from the sea, where your reward is spectacular views of the course and beyond. 14 is a great par 3, played back downhill to a green complex that will confound if you find yourself at the back. Great track.
Date: October 30, 2014