Located in the northern Scottish highlands, the unpretentious links of Brora occupy an ancient tract of farming land alongside the North Sea and enjoy spectacular views across the water to the distant purple hills. Old Tom Morris first laid out a course on the site in 1891, though it was totally overhauled when James Braid built a new eighteen-hole layout in 1923, his modest design remaining remarkably well preserved ever since.
Exposed to fierce sea winds, Braid’s course heads out and back along the shore in a classic single loop and features a memorable array of green sites and naturally undulating fairway structures. There are also a number of genuinely outstanding golf holes to feast on, such as the driveable opener, the 5th, 11th and treacherous short threes at the 6th and 9th. The real highlights, though, come within a closing stretch of considerable dramatic merit. The monstrous uphill par three 18th and approach into the 16th, which plays from a narrow valley up into a fallaway green sitting atop a large ridge, are particularly impressive, while the 17th is a tremendous hole that sweeps down, splits in two and then rises into its tight, sloping target.
Like stepping back in time, Brora is totally wild with electric fences around its greens to protect them from roaming livestock and rabbit holes, cattle dung and barren fescue fairways among its effective hazards. The course does struggle with conditioning and has a number of ordinary holes, but nevertheless it is an unforgettable experience and able to charm most of those who golf here.