A storied links beside the Moray Firth, the Nairn Golf Club was designed by James Braid and boasts a fine collection of links holes and a tremendous reputation for hard, fast and superbly maintained greens. The bunkering is another feature. Until a recent fairway bunker remodel the traps tended to be deep, oval shaped and revetted with most set to the sides of the fairways and greens. The fairway bunkers are now more rugged (than round) in shape, and on occasion more abundant than is ideal. Each of the par five 7th and 18th holes, for example, is so heavily bunkered as to prevent many sensible golfers from using a driver off the tee, or in the case of the 18th to aim deliberately into the rough.
Thankfully the heart of the course remains intact, and after a couple of nondescript opening holes, the terrific 3rd green and attractive short 4th signal the start of an impressive run through the middle of the course. Short fours at the 8th and 9th are both fun to play, even though the 8th green is so severely contoured as to force a layup from the tee. The 9th is much better, and employs a simple strategic concept – that being a straight fairway lined by gorse and with a small green flanked by deep pot bunkers. To make birdie you really need to flirt with the gorse from the tee, or hole a decent sized putt.
Other memorable holes at Nairn include the uphill 13th, the long downhill par three 14th and the drivable par four 15th. The front nine par threes are also good, the 6th usually requiring a long iron across heather into a smallish target and the 4th a flick wedge downwind into a slim, partially obscured putting surface angled diagonally toward the rear right and protected in front by a nasty bunker.
By modern standards Nairn is quite short, but the tricky westerly winds can really complicate things, especially on the way out, and the speed of the greens and depth of the bunkers ensures drop shots for sloppy golfers. There are few blind or quirky moments and less character and charisma here than at Scotland's truly world-class links, but regardless the Nairn Golf Club is well worth a detour for those golfing in this part of the country.
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