It had been 12 years since my last visit to Tain, en route to a gents open the following day at Dornoch. Since then I had retained a fondness for the course, there is always something alluring and beguiling about the Scottish Highlands in the sunshine, and it was always on my "I must go back one day" list. In truth, I didn’t remember a lot about the course with the exception of the fence and the road that fronts the first green and the glorious 11th hole called ‘Alps’, but more of that later.
My day started on the first train out of Glasgow to Inverness where I was picked up to finish the journey, 45 minutes further north, by car. The signs weren’t too promising travelling up as frost, water and mist covered the landscape as far as Perth and I probably wouldn’t have given a buckshee pound note for decent conditions. I shouldn’t have worried as the course was beautifully presented for the time of year, especially the greens. Pin positions on some greens were positioned to protect the green, understandable for the time of year, but that didn’t hinder or spoil our enjoyment one iota.
As if by magic, the sun broke through on the first tee, well it always shines on the righteous so they say, and we were good to go. With conditions almost like a late spring morning the only hint of the time of year was the aforementioned pin positions along with some forward tee positions. The first was as I remembered it followed by the second, normally a par 4 but in winter an excellent par 3 from a forward and slightly off set tee position. Other stand out holes on the outward half being the 3rd and the 9th.
The back nine is dominated by the previously mentioned Alps, a standout and proper signature hole, starting with a difficult drive and a challenging second shot over two mountainous humps, where the hole takes its name from, to a green backed by the Dornoch Firth, marvellous. Other holes to catch my eye were the back to back par 3’s at 16 and 17.
I enjoyed my journey back in time to Tain, a course which should be very proud of its position in the Top 100 of Scotland chart and, although not in the same league as Dornoch or Castle Stuart, a really enjoyable course which should be sought out to play either as a standalone, or part of a double dunt with one of the more celebrated courses in the area.
Date: March 17, 2017