From whichever angle you approach this incomparable links in the remote North-West corner of Scotland, near Cape Wrath, your eyes will feast upon some of the finest scenery Scotland has to offer. The inherent beauty comes from its rugged, barren and at times desolate but always untouched nature.
Located on the now-famous North Coast 500 trail, our own route from Inverness actually took us past Bonar-Bridge and Lairg before picking up the A838 that skirts the mesmeric Loch Shin. The final 50 miles, mostly covered on a single track road, is nothing short of sensational with an endless amount of photo opportunities. The drive into the small town of Durness itself is no less impressive and marks the end of a remarkable journey. For us, a trip that started in Huddersfield 12 hours earlier, 504 miles away.
Upon arriving in the car park at the golf club, located at the end of a winding country lane past a church ruin and cemetery, you may want to allow some time to take in your surroundings and simply appreciate being alive.
If you land on a nice day you will see crystal clear water lapping onto Balnakeil Beach in the near distance and the mighty dunes of Faraid Head on the opposite side of the Bay acting as a glorious backdrop. It’s probably the best view I have witnessed from a golf club car park.
Importantly though, the golf course itself is a match for the journey. Not only is it golf in a beautiful, raw and expansive landscape but the shot values are very high. This is not gimmicky golf that you may expect in a location as unique and dramatic as this.
There is minimal fuss both off and on the golf course. A mostly unmanned clubhouse has an honesty box to pop your modest green-fee into and a small lounge which boasts a fine view over the 18th green and out to sea. We paid just £15 for a round after 5pm.
We played just nine holes and whilst another loop would have been more than desirable our golfing stomach felt full and content. Durness packs a lot of good golf into its nine holes. Nine was just enough and felt right.
The sprawling property is one of its biggest assets. The big, top of the world feeling, enhances the joy to be alive factor. The spaciousness and backdrop add to the ‘one of a kind’ nature but again I must stress this is serious golf.
There isn’t a really poor hole among the group. I’m not personally a fan of steep uphill approaches and that is what greets you at the first but from that moment on there are eight extremely solid golf holes; each one varied and each one so much fun to play.
The last hole is the one that is talked about often at Durness; a mid-to-long iron over a rocky, vertigo inducing inlet to a green sat perilously close to the edge of the cliffs; my two-handicap playing partner took three attempts to find dry land.
The 18th is indeed spectacular but the descending fairway at the 3rd, the double-option fairway of the 5th, the tranquil nature of the 6th wrapping elegantly around Loch Lanlish and the infinity-style green at the 8th are even more feathers in the cap of Durness. Meanwhile, the exquisite par-four 4th and par-three 7th both have a real touch of class about them.
To consider that the greens were most likely constructed on a budget, when the course was laid out by a trio of local enthusiasts in 1988, they were well designed and ran smoothly to boot.
The turf was of the grippy links variety. The course didn’t play overly hard and fast and with its clifftop location you could even possibly argue if it is a true links at all, not that it matters; the golf is so good.
If you go round twice (there are two sets of tees) you will play a course just 5,495 yards long with a par of 70 and SSS of 67.
As I mentioned earlier, we departed West Yorkshire at 5am and 12 hours later arrived in Durness. We had travelled over 500 miles to get there; every one of them was worth it.
It took us a little over 90 minutes to play the course as we walked the 2,753 yards to cover our nine holes; every step was worth it.
Durness is both a journey and a destination.
Following a 4:00am alarm call we’d already driven for more than six hours and covered over 350 road miles before boarding a ferry at Oban sailing to Lochboisdale.
The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion.