Donald Steel, the renowned golf journalist, course architect and former President of the EGU wrote a definitive book on the great links courses on these shores in the early 1990s and published a second edition a few years later. It has become a ‘’bible’’ for links’ enthusiasts with many taking up the challenge of playing all 75 course Steel mentions. Everyone knows the courses that regularly host the Open Championships but there are many other gems that do not receive the same level of publicity but are every bit as challenging.
A third of the Courses Steel included in his book are in Scotland, with the vast majority being on the East coast, starting at Berwick on Tweed and finishing up north at Royal Dornoch. The two other Open Courses in Scotland are on the West Coast below Glasgow, Turnberry and Royal Troon.
Scotland’s links courses are amongst the oldest in the world, being created on coastal land where it was deemed that the agricultural value was strictly limited. The result has been a series of great courses that welcome visitors from many parts of the world each year. There are three ‘’Open Courses’’ on that East Coast, Muirfield, St. Andrews and Carnoustie yet golfers are certain to enjoy all of the others.
Up in the north, Nairn has tested good golfers for many decades. The challenge it presents make for a great golfing holiday in the region. Good accommodation is available locally with Nairn Holiday Rentals inviting visitors to enjoy private coastal places such as Beach House Nairn and Beach Cottage Nairn. They each provide lovely views of the Moray Firth which may be a distraction during the day when the priority really should be concentrating on that little white ball. Book either and have the chance of ticking off a course in a project to play all Steel’s classics, Nairn.
Nearby Castle Stuart is somewhat unusual because few links courses have been created in recent times with architects tending to seek land to produce courses with artificial features; articial water hazards are the typical example. Castle Stuart is a mere decade old and has already hosted the Scottish Open and reached a very high ranking in the top courses in the whole of the UK.
Links golfers are sometimes considered a strange breed yet they need to have imagination to play such courses as Nairn. The skill of the eye, and being able to manufacture shots to suit the wind of the day is a challenge. The wind may blow from a completely different direction the next day, or even the same afternoon. There is no need for any artificial challenges.
Links courses are rarely as long as new created courses so big hitters may find them easy on a calm day, but there is always tomorrow. Donald Steel has certainly been captivated by the challenge they create and he has led a huge number of golfers down the path of being captivated as well.