Golspie may not be love at first sight but it is likely to be an everlasting relationship. James Braid has once again come up with the goods at this fun, and at times quirky, hybrid links course.
From the moment you play into the first green until the time you walk off the exceptional ninth you are in golfing heaven. It’s a stretch of golf that will truly delight. At times it is a rollercoaster ride with shades of two of my other favourite courses; Perranporth in Cornwall and Tenby in South Wales. The land, particularly on the holes that hug the coastline, is simply made for golfing.
Holes two to seven are as linksy as they come - genuine, authentic linksland - before we move into a heathland section of the course which is still in close proximity to the sea and is certainly linksland in my eyes, albeit the holes are lined with heather and pine.
Holes 8 and 9, the latter in particular, are first-class holes. The ninth requires you to shape the drive from right-to-left before playing to a green which is protected by a large depression towards the front-left. It’s a hole that could be placed on many a top golf course and only improve it further.
Both the short holes on this opening sequence of holes are also particularly impressive (the full quartet of one-shotters are outstanding as a group). The second is played into a corner of the property where the wild green is difficult to hold. Meanwhile, you could have hours of chipping-fun around the 151-yard 6th amphitheatrical green which plays directly away from the sea.
In-between these two wonderful short holes you must avoid the ‘Gully’ at the par-five fourth and simple marvel at the radical nature of the 288-yard fifth; perhaps my favourite hole on the entire course. A long iron to a boisterous fairway leaves a blind pitch to a partially sunken green with a steep ramp at the front and a sharp drop-off with bunkers towards the rear.
The inward nine doesn’t quite match the highs of the front-nine but there is still plenty of good and strategic golf to be played, albeit over less linksy land.
The glorious par-three 16th, which has got to be one of the finest in all of Scotland, was a true highlight of not just of our round here but from our six-course expedition to the Scottish Highlands; played knob-to-knob with a backdrop of the North Sea and a split-level green, which falls away on all sides, it is a glorious hole and quite rightly a glorious shot is required to find the putting surface.
The green complexes and the contouring of the putting surfaces in general are excellent at Golspie. There is much fun to be had at many of the greens with lots of breaks and slopes. The condition of them was also very good when we played.
The maximum yardage from the white tees is just 6,021 (par 70) but Golspie packs a lot of very good golf into its modest length.
The diverse terrain is what makes Golspie so special and stand out from other courses. Despite it having moments of heath and a spell of more meadowland on the inland back-nine I would still class it as a links overall. It doesn’t feature in the book ‘True Links’ but there are several courses included in the publication that aren’t a patch on Golspie for linksy-ness!
With so many top courses in the Scottish Highlands it is easy to overlook a visit to Golspie but, in my opinion, that would be a big error.
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.