Nairn (Championship) - North Scotland - Scotland

Nairn Golf Club,
Seabank Road,
Nairn,
IV12 4HB,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1667 453208

  • Golf Club Website

  • 16 miles east of Inverness.

  • Contact in advance – Not Sat/Sun am


Nairn Golf Club is located on an elevated, rumpled piece of linksland on the Moray Firth coastline, close to the historic fishing port. It’s one of Scotland’s lesser-known gems.

This is a course which has been touched by many great architects. The club was founded in 1887 to an original design by Archie Simpson. A few years later Old Tom Morris extended the layout and, prior to the Great War, James Braid made further alterations. Directly after the Great War, Ben Sayers added his mark to the course only to find James Braid itching to polish off the design. It is no wonder that Nairn is such a detailed masterpiece.

One of the most spectacular seaside courses in Scotland, Nairn boasts sea views from every hole. If you are a right-hander and you’ve got a slicing problem, you could find the beach from your very first tee shot. The sea is in play on six of the first seven holes; make sure you’ve got an adequate supply of balls.

When the sun is low in the sky and the shadows are long, you cannot fail to appreciate the undulating, bunker-pitted moonscape that is Nairn. It’s a delightful links with fast, firm but narrow fairways, a number of which are framed by gorse bushes and heather, heaping further pressure onto a nervous drive. The greens are sited in the trickiest places – some are raised and others are nestled in hollows. Most are well protected, either by bunkers or natural hazards, and all of the greens are fast and true, a Nairn trademark.

There is a plethora of good holes at Nairn and the 5th is one of the best. It’s a great 390-yard par four called “Nets” which requires a straight solid drive avoiding the beach on the right. This will leave a short approach shot to a small, elevated green that is well protected by bunkers and a sharp bank sloping off to the right.

The 9th, named “Icehouse”, is a lovely par four to close the outward nine. A tough long drive from the tee is required, avoiding the whin bushes on the left and the bunkers on the right. The green is located to the right of the white cottage which is, in fact, a Salmon Bothy Keep your eyes peeled for the Icehouse which is covered in thick grassy turf where salmon was kept on ice for up to two years.

Nairn is a very long way north. However, you may be surprised to hear that despite Nairn’s Highland latitude, it is located in one of the driest places in Britain. So, why not follow in the footsteps of Peter McEvoy? In 1999, here at Nairn, he lead the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team to a resounding 15-9 victory over the USA.

Following a Course Audit presentation by Tom Mackenzie at a Special General Meeting, approval was given to start work on a course upgrade at the end of 2018. New forward tees were added and new greens constructed on the 1st, 7th and 14th holes, with further reshaping and bunker adjustments made to a further twelve holes.

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Reviews for Nairn (Championship)

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Description: The Championship links at Nairn Golf Club is one of the most spectacular seaside courses in Scotland, boasting sea views from every hole. Rating: 7.7 out of 10 Reviews: 49
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James Kenyon

Played Nairn in April on day 3 of a tour encompassing Dornoch and Castle Stuart. In truth, I didn't have huge expectations given the quality of the others courses, and we actually contemplated skipping Nairn to play one of the others again.

I am so pleased we didn't! Its a great golf course. In my opinion it sits behind Dornoch and Castle Stuart, but only just and it is still a must play. A brilliant stretch of holes from the 3rd all the way to the 18th with a couple of tree lined holes in the middle to shake things up a bit.

April 20, 2016
8 / 10
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J. Ouerdegolf
July 27, 2016

We found it to be a pleasant ,very well kept course ,with nice views over the Moray Firth. Some very good golfing holes and others ,perhaps not quite so ...perhaps rather flat..Some of our group were slightly disappointed,maybe having too high expectations,or from having played Cruden Bay the previous day....we enjoyed it thoroughly,but a few thought that it was overrated and pricey for a club golfer. Well appointed Clubhouse and facilities.

Carl Reichardt

Played in mid-April, 1-2 club wind, 58 F/14 C. A fun course and experience that, like Brora, reminds us that golf in Scotland isn’t just about sport, but about community, because this looks and feels truly like a “locals only” course, especially with so many walking their dogs along the firth as we played it on a fine Spring day. While the opening stretches along the water offer outstanding views, the holes are pancake flat with 1 and 2 as a rather dull beginning.

Things start getting interesting with the semi-hidden greens and 3 and 4 (the latter a terrific par 3 with a sliver for putting surface). The course zig-zags away from the water at 8 and into the gorse, and gradually the screws are tightened, culminating with 12-14 -- a brutal stretch of golf comprising two loooong par 4s and a loooong par 3. My group surmised that very few amateurs have made it through those three holes under par from the tips.

Holes 13 and 14 may be a bit out of character with the rest of the course (into the “woods” so to speak), but given the added muscle the holes bring to the course, I think the trade is fair – I disagree with those who think they detract from the links. After 15 (a good short par 4 -- Nairn has a number of good short par 4s), the course then beelines for the clubhouse with some more fairly flat holes to finish, but the nasty little pot bunkers, true and pleasant greens, very firm fairways and the occasional surprise (a hidden hollow in front of a green, or the inevitable burn you thought was out of play from the tee) all offer exactly the kind of playing conditions I enjoy -- not to mention the wind.

My golf ball rating for the course would be a 4 or perhaps 4 1/2 but Nairn gets an extra ball for having the kindest, most welcoming membership of anywhere I’ve played in Britain. My group had as much fun chatting in the bar (and on the putting green AND the first tee AND the range) as we did playing. Nearly two dozen different folks stopped by to say hello, to ask how our round or our trip was and what courses in the States we liked. We all agreed immediately this would be the club in the Isles we’d join were the people we met the only qualifier. But that’s not to disparage the golf at all – it’s an enjoyable, fair, straight-forward, attractive course with enough bite that one is ready for a pint or two, especially with the friendliest folks around, afterwards.

November 17, 2015
8 / 10
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David Worley
Nairn is definitely one of my favourite courses in Scotland’s north. On a clear sunny day you cannot help but be seduced by the sight of the rich blue Moray Firth on one side and the distant Highlands on the other. The first seven holes each have the sea as out of bounds on the right hand side. Most of the par fours have well placed bunkers to catch any drive a little off line. The 2nd is a shortish par five from the championship tee, but from the medal tee it transforms into a very difficult par four of 474 yards.

The real challenge awaits at Nairn’s version of Amen Corner – the 12th to 14th holes. These three holes are rated 5, 1 and 7 so par them all and you have done exceptionally well.

Twelve requires an accurate drive and the avoidance of a fairway bunker on the left. The 13th runs up a hill and with plenty of trees, gorse and heather for an indifferently struck ball. Allow yourself an extra few minutes on the tee of the picturesque 14th. A par three of 221 yards, it heads back downhill from the highest point on the course.

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 16, 2015
10 / 10
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Iain Ritchie

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.

October 30, 2014
8 / 10
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francis regan
Played Nairn in july of 2013 during our heatwave last summer. It was glorious. Very friendly club and the greens where outstanding. The first 6 holes along the firth are great. My trip included royal dornoch, brora, golspie and tain. The golf here is better than west coast Scotland(my local area) for half the price and twice the quality.This is a must play for lovers of links golf. I cant wait to play this course again.
January 09, 2014
10 / 10
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Kevan Voce
The 3rd leg of our annual 3-day golf tour in June (with Dornoch and Fortrose & Rosemarkie). I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as Dornoch and it wasn’t but not far off. They have a lovely museum in thee clubhouse which is well worth a visit before or after your round. First off it was in great nick (that surprised us a Dormoch member warned us about poor greens here - sour grapes maybe due to a recent lost club match?). The area around the first tee was immaculate and the whole club has a feeling of effortless class (unlike that dreadful Castle Stuart down the road). The first few holes run along the shore with the short fourth turning back to the sea. That little stretch is utterly magical with the Scottish pines adding to the scene. Mid-way through the back nine the course has a few holes with a parkland feel. I enjoyed these and the short (13th?) reminded me of the lovely 7th at Hillside. Overall a wonderful place to play golf . This together with Dornoch, Cruden Bay and Royal Aberdeen really does make you wonder why on earth anyone would play Castle Stuart or Trump. Personally, I’d never play those carbunkles and they (like Loch Lomond) should be remove from the rankings.
July 12, 2013
10 / 10
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al
July 13, 2013
just wondering what it is that makes you label those 3 courses as carbuncles? I've only had the chance to play castle Stuart out of those and like most, was thoroughly impressed.
SR
July 13, 2013
"Effortless class" a great phrase to describe a great course. Interested by your take on Castle Stuart though, obviously a totally different set up but I have always enjoyed it. Did it seem too artificial to you?
Hugh
July 15, 2013
Calling Castle Stuart a carbuncle (note the correct spelling in future!) is like saying Jennifer Aniston is pig ugly. I think there is much to agree with in this review but suggesting that Loch Lomond and Castle Stuart should be removed from the rankings is as mad as suggesting that Pope Francis converts to Hinduism.
Shaun
July 15, 2013
Seems a little silly to rubbish the three courses when you haven't played them?
BB
November 03, 2017

Bit harsh on Castle Stuart - it is a great course. I understand where you're coming from but you ideally need to judge it by what it is and it what it isn't: Not all clubs are born 150 years old and serve a local community - some need to aim for the corporate market to be viable - just think if Trump International at Aberdeen had targeted the local golfer - considering everything that went on during the development and all the other existing great tracks they already have...

...but places like this can still be and are great courses.

B.G. Donaldson
I couldn't help but contrast the experience of playing Castle Stuart, which we had the day before, and Nairn. Castle Stuart was like a bright new shiny penny and Nairn seemed like the dark keeper of the flame. Well, that all seems a bit flamboyant, so let me just say this: I loved Nairn. It is a true championship course (reflected in the many great championships played there). Unlike another reviewer, I found no bad holes, and we had the pleasure of watching a fellow competitor play two from the beach and still make bogey. Nairn offers a sturdy test with holes that are challenging in the extreme, punctuated by some real risk/reward types (eagle possibilities, depending on the wind). Among the Highlands courses we played, I rate it only behind Royal Dornoch and not by much. If you visit, play them both. Twice. BGD
July 08, 2013
10 / 10
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David Oliver
Certainly mixed reviews in respect of Nairn. Personally, the first holes holes are world class, the others are not, with the two inland holes just horrible.There are so many great links courses in Scotland, that I am staggered that Nairn is so highly ranked and has hosted international events. Spent a month playing golf in Scotland recently and Nairn was the only venue that was not welcoming. I am a 6 handicap golfer who has played 50+ of the top 100 in Britain. This course should not be in the top 100.
June 25, 2013
4 / 10
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Hendrik Hilgert
I played Nairn in Mid May and thoroughly enjoyed the round. This is a great course, with excellent greens, good course condition and the feeling of a proper golf club (we watched a number of juniors that played the 18th at the end of a club competition when we were enjoying our lunch in the clubhouse post our round). Nairn is visually less stunning than Dornoch or Castle Stuart but the three courses together make the Highlands a great place for a golf break. We stayed in Inverness for a few days which is a great location if you are looking for easy access to three excellent golf courses in combination with a fun town to stay in and enjoy some restaurants and pubs in the evening. Our group rated Nairn probably a touch ahead of its neighbour Castle Stuart but certainly behind Royal Dornoch, nevertheless it deserves a 6 ball rating in my view. As an aside: I disagree with some reviewers who stated that the holes around the fir tree complexes in the middle of the Back 9 are less attractive, I found that Nos. 13 and 14 are very strong holes, even if they are somewhat parkland like holes.
June 08, 2013
10 / 10
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Jon Wilkinson
We played the course on a cold windy but mostly dry day in September, and as I suspect many others do as part of a trip to play Royal Dornoch. Nairn is a fine, fair, links course with many testing holes and few gimmicks. It offers fine sea views. Although of similar length it's far easier than Dornoch, largely because the greens are much simpler to hit and hold. Although the greens were in excellent shape, the fairways were inferior to RD.For the average golfer Nairn is a playable championship course, and I think most would enjoy it. £90 could be argued to be a little steep as a green fee, but all our party were happy with their day.
September 24, 2012
8 / 10
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