On first sight Tain does not appear to be your quintessential links course. The panorama from the first tee offers no glimpse of the sea but a view of a generous fairway with only light rough separating it from the 18th to the left. The best opening drive should finish on that side of the 1st so it does come into play. This sets the pattern for the rest of the course. The gorse-lined fairways are firm, and at times rather wide, so distance should be no problem. You have to be precise, to allow a good line in for the subsequent approach, with little fringe rough to stop the ball bouncing or rolling off into trouble. Having your tee shot find its way into a fairway bunker is often somewhat of a relief as it will at least be found and maybe eminently playable. In this respect the design is reminiscent in places of the Turnberry Kintyre layout. Few of the fairways are flat, with humps and hollows featuring on most, with only flatter fairways found down by the seaside holes. There is good variety to the length of the holes length of the holes as well. Upon reflection my favourite holes would be 8, 9 and 15 although the 11th stands out also for the two hillocks guarding its front. The first of those is a daunting par3 with gorse seemingly everywhere followed by the tight dogleg right par4 9th where shaping and precision are the watchwords. The 15th stands out due to its fairly short yardage at 330 yards. Having got the tee shot into play the challenge is all about the approach. If the hole is cut near to the swale in front of the green, and the run off to the right, then short game skills are really tested. Powers of concentration are also tested by what must be some of the noisiest sheep you will find anywhere. Perhaps they’re all busy asserting their individuality. By contrast, the noise from the evening train departing the station just adds further charm to the backdrop of the gothic towers of Tain bathed in early evening sunshine. A fine day of golf.
Date: June 28, 2012