Updated: Jun 12, 2018
Reading the strokesaver I looked forward to my 2 days at Tain and hoped the weather would hold (it did :)) – “Overlooking the Dornoch Firth Tain offers one of the best settings imaginable for a round of golf in the highlands”. Big claims indeed when you consider some of the other courses in the area.
A relatively easy (but long) 4 hour drive from Edinburgh, past Inverness and along the Cromarty forth, Tain Golf Club is easy to find, as was my accommodation for the next 2 days, The Royal Hotel is central to the town and Ivan greeted me with a welcoming introduction.
Two days of seniors golf lay ahead, and with a 12:20 pm tee time I could look forward to a relaxing evening in a couple of local bars.
First night I headed down to the Platform (the old railway station) bar and restaurant, an excellent find with good pub food and a decent selection of beers and wine. A few guinnnes in the Railway close to the hotel followed !
Next day ahead of a 12:20 tee time I took the short, 10 mile drive over the Dornoch firth to take a look at Royal Dornoch, although not playing I was keen to have a wander around and see the golf course, excellent. The exclusive Skibo Castle is also close by which made me think that a short tour of these 3 stand out courses would be a great trip “beyond Invernes”.
I headed back to meet my playing partners ahead of my first Seniors event of 2018. Both were +1 handicappers so I was (slightly) intimidated (no need to be as everyone on the senior tour is excellent company, a friendly tour and highly recommended for anyone over 50), but determined just to play my own game.
The 1st (down wind) is a good drive and a short club in to a blind green, I managed a scruffy 5 and walked on unscathed. The second is a short tactical par 4 (no driver needed) and as we made our way through the front 9 I began to enjoy the experience, some good holes, not long but requiring accuracy as gorse bushes line the course with relatively few bail out areas, a wayward drive gets severely punish as I was to find out on the back 9 the following day.
We turned in decent scores, and then played the next 3 holes into the wind, tough, tough and tougher until we finally reached the Par 5 13th for a 3-puut and sqaundred birdie chance.
AYou can look forward to 2 really strong Par 3s on 16 and 17, one short , one long, both with water in play , followed by a strong final hole into the wind means with an east wind you are always looking to make a score on the front 9 and hold onto it coming home.
The next day the wind had done a half turn and we played (it seemed) all 18 with a 25mph cross wind – making the slice shot on the back 9 one to be avoided. I suffered, but 3 good 9s out of 4 meant I was relatively satisfied with my game if not my final score !
Tain Golf Club is an excellent course and one definitely to add to your bucket list and hunt out, indeed the term “hidden gem” could have been coined for Tain, an Old Tom Morris design (1890), it uses the natural contours of the links land alongside with Dornoch firth, but with spectacular views of the Struie Hills in the distance . The course is in great condition, the greens are excellent and true and it’s a thinking mans course making you play good tactical shots off the tee and considered approaches. However, when the wind blows be prepared for some tough long holes.
So do yourself a favour, Nairn, Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch, Skibo, Lossiemouth are all great courses – but don’t overlook Tain, its worth the trip !