Golspie Golf Club
I met Stu and Ray by the first tee. To be fair we were the only people there. Both were members and they kindly invited me to join them for a few holes. Both have careers in and around the NHS but in their spare time they care equally for this course. It is a little gem with a number of standout holes that grander clubs would spend years recreating.
But this place does not attract the headlines of Dornoch or the cashmere hopefuls of Brora and is not widely known in North America. As a result it struggles for members and money and like the NHS it needs both volunteers and our support for it is loved by everyone (and needs more money). The first hole takes you under the gaze of the benefactor and landowner the Duke of Sutherland. His statue and family history dominate the landscape.
There follows a tigerish par 3 towards the town before you find yourself above the strand with the stone pier behind you. To the left is the firth and the old clubhouse lost below the waves. This stretch is along open shoreline but builds to a crescendo at holes 5 and 6. The fifth is a classic, short, par 4 links hole played to a steeply banked green that is difficult to hold and the next is a par 3 dominated by dunes. The seventh starts the transition to a distinct part of the course changing from the grey/ greens of the dunes to evergreen fir and heather. It is pretty in a different style but also tough. It is hemmed in by hazards seen but difficult to avoid as opposed to the previous wide expanses hiding hollows and sand. The contrast is more challenging than disconcerting. They contain some of the hardest holes and one of the prettiest known as Paradise. As the course turns and winds home the drama of sea and pine diminishes on the inward side. However the course does not let you drop your guard, distances become deceptive on the flat and the holes keep asking questions.
Were it more propitiously located it would attract more visitors, more money and more praise for a fine course. Don’t ignore it on your travels and reward the volunteers and yourself with a round where you can enjoy the scenery and the company without the martinet of a starter and the ever present clock, and enjoy the luxury of a course, almost, to yourself.
A huge thank you to the club for allowing me to pay my Green Fee to Alzheimer’s Society. On a thin diet it was particularly generous. Thank you.