Spey Bay - North East Scotland - Scotland

Spey Bay Golf Club,
Spey Bay,
Fochabers,
Moray,
IV32 7PJ,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1343 820424

  • Dave Barron

  • Ben Sayers

  • Not known

According to geologist, geographer and golf consultant Robert Price’s book Scotland’s Golf Courses, “a different type of links course is to be found at Spey Bay. An 18-hole course has been laid out on a series of raised, storm-beach ridges which accumulated during periods of higher relative sea level some 6,000 years ago.”

He continues: “The ridges consist of boulders and pebbles and largely coincide with the rough of gorse and heather, whilst the fairways are to be found in the shallow ‘valleys’ between the ridges. Wind direction and strength obviously play an important part in determining the difficulty of this course.”

Ben Sayers, one of the best players to compete in the Open championship and never win it – with twelve top ten finishes in thirty four tournaments – was the man who laid out the course in 1907 when he routed the fairways in an out and back fashion along the Moray coastline. Several holes were lost during the 1980s due to storm damage but most of the original layout remains intact.

The signature hole is still the 138-yard 8th, situated at the most easterly point on the property. Out of bounds extends to the left and beyond this par three hole, with a nasty pot bunker positioned to the front left of an elevated, shallow putting surface. Pray the wind is blowing against when standing on the tee as that’s the best chance of playing a tee shot to hit and hold this treacherous green.
If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Spey Bay

Average Reviewers Score:
Description: The distinguished Scottish club maker Ben Sayers originally designed the course at Spey Bay Golf Club and it’s an unsung links layout that is routed over Moray’s undulating shingle banks. Rating: 6.8 out of 10 Reviews: 20
TaylorMade
Jim McCann

After playing one or two soulless new “corporate” courses in recent times, it was a real tonic to discover that an old-fashioned course like Spey Bay could re-affirm my love for traditional links golf layouts. The club could do with a little self-promotion by way of its website as it seriously under sells itself both on and off the fairways.

Its charming wood framed clubhouse has been upgraded inside with a very modern bar cum dining area that serves the campers on the adjacent site as well as the golfers, providing very comfortable facilities for everyone.Spey Bay Golf Course - photo by Jim McCann

The fairways are the real feature on the course and these playing corridors navigate the humps, bumps, hollows and valleys that lie along the coastline in between dense areas of high gorse and heather.

The fact that many of the holes favour a slight fade suited my game but I can see why others would not be so pleased to have such a high number of similar-style holes on the card.

The par threes were a bit of a disappointment, with only the table top green of the very short 8th providing an abiding memory.

Overriding everything, the state of the putting surfaces left a lot to be desired – something catastrophic has obviously occurred to cause so many bare patches on the greens, making putting a complete lottery.

Spey Bay certainly offers excellent value for money and its inherent charm is hard to ignore. Not quite a four ball rating on this occasion, I’m afraid, as there’s plenty of room for improvement on the conditioning aspect of the course.

Jim McCann

August 16, 2011
4 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Response
J Igger
September 08, 2011
Great course only going to get better when the greens settle down.A true links course that puts some of the nearby "named "courses in their place.
Robert Irving
My family, friends and I have been taking annual golf holidays in Scotland for over 20 years, focusing on links courses somewhat off the beaten track. This year, on the personal recommendation of Ronan Rafferty (who called it a “hidden gem” in the same breath as Machrihanish and Machrie), we played Spey Bay for the first time. We found a wonderful course, with an imaginative layout. Like courses such as Tain, the fairways are often framed on both sides by gorse and appear at first glance to be more narrow than the typical links course, and can be visually intimidating when combined with the prevailing crosswind. The course, however, plays fair and, because of the great variety of holes, we used practically every club in our bags. We played the course on a Thursday afternoon in June, and saw a maximum of 5 other golfers during the course of our round. Combined with the views of the North Sea and Buckie and Buckpool in the distance, and the sounds of the plentiful birds in the area, we were free to make our way around the course in peaceful isolation. The greens are currently a bit rough, but the current efforts by the management inspire confidence that they will be brought up to the quality of the remainder of the course in the near future. We will certainly be back to test them.
June 29, 2011
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Response
M Ashie
June 30, 2011
Must endorse completely.A great course that should be enjoyed by more people.When the greens improve this will be a course not to missed.
patrick
We played 12 courses from Brora to Moray, most of them more than notable but mostly well reckoned - with one exception, Spey Bay. Spey Bay was designed by Ben Sayers and sits right between the shoreline and a small forest… not to forget the huge amount of gorse. There is not much around the course – a driving range and a lesser modern hotel – but the course is not only worth a visit but also a nomination for the Scottish rankings. The layout is more or less classical, nine out, nine in. The variation of the holes is one of the strengths of the course. All par threes are fantastically challenging. The 4th plays pretty long (195 yards) with half of the green hidden behind gorse, and the 8th can make a man cry, with the most difficult plateau green you can imagine. Furthermore you have got tricky doglegs, long and straight but very undulating and narrow fairways, nice views and absolute silence. Concerning the condition, the greens were the best we played throughout our stay and the fairways and tees have been competitive. All in all Spey Bay is a great test of golf because of the very challenging layout and the relaxed atmosphere. Patrick
June 12, 2011
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Response
Bob
October 20, 2014
Very pleasant but also puzzled by some comments - "variation of holes" "All par 3's fantastically challenging" "8th - most difficult plateau green you can imagine". ???? You need to play Dornoch / Castle Stewart/ Hopeman / Cruden Bay !!!
M Sellers
I thoroughly enjoyed my round at Spey Bay. It was a real test of golf and, as an 18 handicap, I found it very tough going out, but very fair coming back in. As a traditional out and back layout, a stiff wind was in my face for almost the entire front 9. This made the 420+ yard par 4's almost impossible for me to par, and difficult to bogey. With that said, there were also some shorter par fours. On the way back, playing predominantly with the wind, I found the par 5's reachable in two with straight hitting although the damage had already been done and there was no chance of me playing anywehre near my handicap. The course is great fun, and very relaxed. This is no-frills golf, with an honesty box, and a small (temporary?) clubhouse. The walk from green to tee was only about ten or fifteen yards on many holes. Perhaps the way golf is really meant to be played. The course takes you well away from everything apart from the beach and the sea, with great views. I played in the evening, with a lowering sun perfectly highlighting the undulating ground - there are few flat lies - and the raw nature of the course. There is room to really open the shoulders on many of the drives, but accuracy is needed for approach shots into smallish greens. The condition of the course could also be described as 'raw' but, for me at least, that didn't matter a bit. Although there was quite a lot of moss, puts ran true and I never had a bad lie on the fairway. The heather was in full bloom and it completely punished a wayward drive or approach. I imagine this is what golf was like a hundred years ago and I loved it!
April 23, 2011
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Jim Robertson
Recently returned to Spey Bay and my first impression was right - this is a terrific golf course! The bad news is that it is in financial trouble. We spoke with the greenkeeper who told us he is the ONLY person now employed to work there. With the closure of the hotel there is real concern for the future of this true gem so get up there and spend your money. You will not be disappointed. This secluded, tranquil place represents the true spirit of Scottish golf. Save Spey Bay!!!
September 21, 2009
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Response
Fred three hcp
October 07, 2009
I played this course a few years ago, and thought it really was magnificent. Definatively on my top 10 list, and I have played some 80 courses.
Mike Mcleod
May 07, 2010
I am a Greenkeeper at Spey Bay, would just like to correct things. There are two Staff that work on the course at present, I'm usually the one out on the course the Head Greenkeeper must have been on holiday. I would also like to say that i beleive the layout and scenery of the course, and its relaxed atmosphere do make it better than most courses around the area.
dan h
May 09, 2010
I would just like to say that we were very keen to play Spey Bay recently and only didn't because of the opportunity to play Castle Stuart. However, the locals that we met in Portsoy said that Spey Bay is one of the most enjoyable and best kept courses in the area. We will be back !
Pete
Played this course with members of Nairn, Moray and Cruden Bay - we all thought it was great, especially the greens. At least one of us thought it was better than Nairn. What a beautiful course with friendly staff - a great advert for the North East.
July 10, 2008
8 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Response
G R Enouille
July 22, 2009
Excellent natural course well worth the £20--needs a bit of TLT but it really is worth the playing
Scott
Superb layout that provided a really good Links test. Played 36 holes midweek and the only other person we spotted was a local out walking his dog! This course has great potential but suffers from a lack of investment, the hotel looked derilict, 'club house' locked up and the driving range was overgrown. The course itself was in suprisingly decent shape considering all this and I would definately recommend it to anyone visiting the area.
June 27, 2008
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

John Moffat
Nice layout and greens were in surprisingly good condition given that it looks like there has been no investment here for years. Facilities very poor and the place could do with a bit of money pumped in to it as it has a lot of potential!! Not bad value at £20 midweek for what you get. If your time is limited in the area, play Moray and Elgin.
August 21, 2007
4 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Response
john milne
January 21, 2008
It is one of the very few natural courses that exist, where you have to get the ball from tee to green over the land nature created against the elements of the weather, a stunning test and different every time it is played,the course needs visitors to come and play and enjoy and spread the word, there is no fancy clubhouse or other frills, just golf as it was meant to be......fun
Adam C
Classic links, right along ther coast. nice and long with lots of quirky holes. Condiiton excellent and and an absolute bargin at £20 in the honesty box. I've played Dornoch, Moray and Nairn recenlty and i would rate this higher believe it or not!!!!! quick get up there!
July 17, 2007
10 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Response
alex sherratt
July 17, 2007
I beleive not! There is not a chance this course is rated higher than Moray, Dornoch and Nairn, I know opinions are personal but as classic courses go I am going to beg to differ - sorry.
Alex Sherratt
Would not really rate this course, as there are better courses in the area. Since the transfer to a hotel facility the green fees have jumped up over recent years. Better courses that give a greater test lie nearby - Moray (Old) and (New), Buckpool, Elgin, Strahlene Buckie and Hopeman.
January 07, 2007
4 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Response
David C Barron
February 18, 2008
Get your facts right ,the hotel has always run the course and green fees are very reasonable. It is a classic links as the fairways have not been shaped at all by mechanical means and are virtually as they were laid out by Ben Sayers wading chest high in whins with only a boy to plant flags where he decided to place the greens and tees in 1907.The greens are small and true,the fairways tight and bumpy with hardly a flat lie in the whole course.The turf is short and gives a classic crisp lie that cannot be produced by anything other than the natural bent grasses that grow here.When the wind blows it a challenge to any level of golfer and the course record of 65(par 70)is unlikely to be beaten.