Nestled in a cove between spectacular rock formations there is a natural stretch of traditional Scottish linksland where the golf course is situated.
Well and truly off the beaten path the bumpy winding track that leads down to the course sets the anticipation levels high for golf that is under the radar for most golfers. Yet those who venture down to Covesea will be rewarded with a thrilling experience and enjoy moments of pure joy. Fun abounds.
The greens and their surrounds at this rudimentary layout put many of the more established golf courses in the Highlands and North-East to shame. There are no less than five outstanding holes on this compact and sheltered property with three green complexes of the very highest order.
The opening hole, a par three of 197-yards, is nothing to rave about but is a fine test of hitting a long iron nonetheless. However, the next three have a real quality to them with brilliant movement across the rumpled terrain. The second sweeps left-to-right through gorse whilst the third arches the other way to a sublime green location that effortlessly slides off a dune on the left before the fourth adds some bite at 403-yards with a hole that could easily be added to any top links and not worsen it.
To be fair, things get a little crazy from here on in. The fifth is only 92-yards and is played blind to the top of a cliff. From the tee there is no indication of how good the green setting is but once you mount the summit you are faced with a sloping, almost boomerang shaped, green that falls away on all sides; it’s a thing of beauty and the view from this high vantage point is just as good encompassing a picture-postcard vision of Covesea Lighthouse and a good stretch of the Moray Firth, highlighting all the richness that this wild, natural landscape offers.
Holes six and eight are both similar in appearance. The first (238 yards) plays as a par-three and the second (241 yards) as a par four but there’s little in them. Both are solid holes but it is the one that falls in between that might just be the most memorable at Covesea, certainly the most quirky. The 131-yard seventh is played blind over a huge rock formation to a three-level green that has internal contours that are as good as anything I’ve seen. Meanwhile, the final hole is also quite whacky and is played across a gully to a small sloping green.
The total yardage is a few paces over the two kilometre mark (par 31) but I can’t think of a course that packs as much fun and quality into such a short distance. A round here took 45 minutes and was an absolute blast. Admittedly, the greens were in quite poor condition and clearly hadn’t been cut for a few days but the quality of grass actually looked quite good and if a mower had been run over the top of them I suspect they would have putted reasonably well.
Near the course many old red sandstone cliffs can be seen that are between 60 to 100 feet high which provide a dramatic back drop for your round. Beyond the bounds of the course there are many caves, fissures, arches, sea stacks, and fantastic rock formations which add to the wild and natural beauty of the location. During your round be sure to keep your eyes open as you may see some of the spectacular wildlife that is local to the area including Dolphins, Seals, Otters, Osprey and Wildfowl.
It looks as though the club has planted a few young fir trees in certain areas of the course. I told the lady who took our £10 pound green-fee that, in the hope that she was the owner, these should be pulled up as soon as possible in fear that these could really spoil the course. Frankly, it’s pretty much perfect as it is.
In fact you can virtually ignore our five-star rating for the course. It's almost unmarkable - just go there and enjoy Covesea for what it is.
The game of golf has the ability to take you on amazing journeys to the most wondrous places where you meet such interesting people.
It was an impulsive, crazy… and some would say utterly ridiculous… decision that took me to The Machrie in the Spring of 2018.