Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Dornoch, Scottish Highlands
Founded 1877. Links Course
The jewel in the crown of golf in the Scottish Highlands, Royal Dornoch was designed by the legendary Old Tom Morris, who created a masterpiece remarked upon by Tom Watson as being “the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course”. The Championship Links has been tweaked over the years by the likes of Sutherland, Ross and Duncan but the work has obviously all been worthwhile in that Dornoch is consistently ranked amongst the best 20 golf courses in the world. The second course at Dornoch is the superb Struie layout and is ideal with respect to a 36-hole day or an arrival afternoon round. Given the location and the likely lengthy journey to get here, it’s actually a good idea to set aside two days for play on the championship links. It’s that good.
Great golf is only part of the story when considering what makes the perfect golf trip. Thankfully the other essential components are all found in abundance in Scotland, not least in the sights to see department. Whether scheduling a full free day from golf or filling an afternoon after your morning round, there are many options regardless of which region you are visiting. The below is intended as a very general guide to sightseeing in the Scottish Highlands.
Apart from its array of great links golf courses, the Scottish Highlands is renowned for its spectacular scenery, ancient castle ruins and impressive range of whisky distilleries, where a tasting is almost obligatory during any golf trip in this region. Some places to visit in the general Dornoch area include Dunrobin Castle & Gardens near Golspie, Tain Pottery and Tain through Time in Tain and of course the impressive Glenmorangie Distillery just outside Tain.
South of Inverness, you could consider a day-trip to the beautiful Isle of Skye or visit the likes of the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition in Drumnadrochit and the dramatic ruins of 13th century Urquhart Castle (pictured above). Interesting stops to the east of Inverness include Fort George overlooking the Moray Firth, Brodie Castle near Forres, Cawdor Castle & Gardens, just 15 minutes south of Nairn and the historic Culloden Battlefield & Visitor Centre.
The journey from Nairn southwards could be a long one given the many distilleries on what is known as the Malt Whisky Trail and you can choose from the likes of Macallan Distillery and Cardhu Distillery & Visitor Centre near Aberlour, Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Glen Grant Distillery in Rothes and Glenlivet Distillery in Ballindalloch. It’s not all about whisky however and other attractions include Ballindalloch Castle and Brodie Castle near Forres.
Aberdeenshire also has plenty to see and you should take in the likes of Glen Garioch Distillery in Inverurie, Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home to the Royal family since 1852, Castle Fraser, Drum Castle & Gardens near Banchory and the ghostly ruins of Slains Castle (pictured above) near Cruden Bay, which is said to have provided the inspiration for Bram Stokers, Dracula.