Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Dornoch, Highlands and Islands, Scotland, IV25 3LW

0186 2810219 | E-mail golf course | Golf course website

39 reviews of Royal Dornoch Golf Club

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Was lucky enough to play in Carnegie Shield here in August 2008, 36 holes of stroke play. My first ever visit to the area. What a course, undoubtedly the best and hardest I have ever played anywhere, and that includes several Open venues, and all courses in St.Andrews. The views of the sea from almost every hole are spectacular. Played dreadfully badly myself, as had no prior experience of the course. which was in my view, more of a hindrance here than anywhere else I had played.Greens are all upturned saucers surrounded by deep pot bunkers that should be avoided at all costs.Do not end up in the front right bunker on the par 3 second hole.This alone made Woodhall Spa and the Old Course seem tame in comparison. A 950 mile round trip from home, but a course that every serious golfer should play. Pity the poor members who feel miffed at having to pay less than 300 quid per year.

Posted by Dave Murtagh on 30/10/2008
5
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24/4/08 Royal Dornoch
My non golfing family and friends cant really understand why we would want too leave at 7am for a 4.5hr (would have been 3.5 hrs had we not stopped at the nearby glenmorangie distillery in tain) drive up from Glasgow and pay £70 to play a golf course in the middle of no where! I had to pretty much try and convince my 3 friends the trip would be worth it too. I had played the course 2 years ago and although i enjoyed it the weather was awful. This time weather was nice and reaffirmed what a wonderfull golf course Royal Dornoch is. You really need to visit here and you will see exactly what Tom Watson meant when he said "Ive never had as much fun on a golf course". Some previous reports from last year mention poor greens and fairways etc. What ever the problems last year were I can assure everyone they have been sorted as the overall condition of the course especially the greens was excellent. Walking onto the 3rd tee and seeing the golf course open up in front of you is quite wonderfull. Standing on the 9th tee with the sea lapping almost at your feet on a course which has never seen a bull dozer is something all golfers should experience. This golf course does not have the heartbreaking, buttock clenching challenges of Carnoustie or the first tee flutters and duey eyed walk up 18 of St Andrews, or a postage stamp hole or a massive big hotel overlooking it. But it does challenge you. It is such a natural athsetics which make it extraordinarily beautifull and when I though about it afterwards, i coundn't think of anywhere else i'd had so much fun.

Posted by Iain Campbell on 07/05/2008
5
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Despite it being November I jumped at the opportunity of playing this wonderful course for the second time this year. The Championship course is superb, in great nick and tricky without being a monster like some of the Open courses north of the border.
This time, having played it first in September, we had to go off temporary tees which shortened it considerably whilst two of the par threes were removed from the round, although the green fees were reduced accordingly. But there is still such an atmosphere about the place with my particular favourite holes being the eighth and 17th, both left hand dog legs, where good drives race off downhill requiring accurate seconds into well bunkered greens.
Every hole is fair with few nasty kicks or blind drives but it is most certainly tough. I loved it and cannot wait to be able to play there again.
Dornoch is poorly served for quality accommodation in terms of hotels and pubs so making Inverness, some 45 miles away, a base would be the wise move. This will however change once Peter DeSavary undertakes his refurbishment of the Golf hotel although the course may well get a lot busier than it is now and prices increase.
Play it now and enjoy every one of the 18.

Posted by Stephen Killick on 29/11/2007
5
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Royal Dornoch is absolutely fantastic. I have now played the course 5 times and it gets better every time. Stunning location, the views are fab and a very difficult golf course. Miss the fairways at your peril. Every single par 3 is a classic. I would single out the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 13th, 14th and 18th for special mention although every hole is great. The greens are excellent as is all of the course. Brilliant, just brilliant!! The best course outwith the Open Championship courses in the UK.

Posted by Paul Meikle on 04/11/2007
5
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This was the fourth stop on a golf tour by four Swedish golfers in July 2007.
We had reserved a tee time far in advance, and our reservation was handled in an efficient and welcoming manner.
The course was everything we had expected in terms of its natural setting and the layout of the holes. It is probably the most varied and interesting golf course I have ever played. We were not so impressed with the condition of fairways and greens, though. Fairways were downright scruffy in a few places (not many, to be fair, but on a course of this reputation I would have expected better). The greens were good, but in no way exceptional - those we played two days previously at Brora were almost as good, and those at Tain the day before - in awful weather - were in fact significantly better.
I suppose the condition of the fairways may in part have been due to heavy pressure of play in adverse weather conditions.

Posted by Harald Hallen on 26/07/2007
4
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My son and I played the Championship course on 30/05/07. Locals tell us this was the worst day weather wise this year. Our visit to Dornoch was an early 50th birthday present for me and I'd been looking forward to this day since we booked in October 2006. Having read some other correspondents' reports I tingled with excitement about the thought of playing the same links as described by Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw as being 'the most fun they've had on a golf course'.
Well, despite the weather, I can fully understand why. This is a marvellous golf course - easily the best I've ever played and no amount of wind, ( and boy did it blow ) or rain, ( I won't use bad language here ) was going to spoil our enjoyment. That said, my son who is only 9, gave up after 9 holes because he was so cold but walked with me to the 16th and then headed for our hotel.
We had a pre-booked tee-time of 10:50 and the two games before us - 1 French group, 1 American group declined their alloted spots ( I leave you to draw your own conclusions) so we teed off a little early which didn't help my nerves much. As you probably know, 9 year olds don't suffer much from nerves and Jack crashed a drive down the middle of the short stuff. I found a nice patch of rough on the left fairway but recovered to make par.
Having read about the 2nd before our visit I couldn't wait to see what challenge it presented and on stepping on the tee I have to say I was somewhat disappointed (played harder par 3s than this round Manchester !!!). Hit what I thought was a great 5 iron, it rolled right off the green and then what seemed a relatively easy chip upto the flag became a nightmare finish via a pot bunker and then a 20' putt.
By the 3rd the weather had deteriorated to the extent that we couldn't really see where we were aiming. Natural golfing instinct (I'm blushing as I'm typing this) somehow took over and we found our way around the next 5 or 6 holes. (Just a word for my son here, on the par 3 7th (I think) he took a fairway wood off the tee and landed 10' from the pin in conditions I've seldom experienced before). A course ranger was waiting behind the green and I was sure he was going to tell us the course had been closed but in that typical Sutherland way he advised us that "it's ainly borderline at tha' maement and tha's nae wather holding on the greens". I must admit, shamefacedly, I wanted him to tell me we had to pack in.
My son gave up shortly after this ( I must stop sending him out in just vest and underpants) but I was determined to get every last drop of my money's worth and battled on 'till the end even making pars on the 17th and 18th.
Would I play here again ? It took a lot of convincing from my wife to leave and come home instead of having a crack in good weather. Plus the Scottish Open Amateur Championship started the day we left. Couldn't use the clubhouse because we were wetter than otters' pockets despite waterproofs.
Me and my son just had to return before breakfast on our last day to see the first games of the Scottish Amateurs tee off in what was beautiful weather, not a cloud in the sky, a gentle breeze that would only ripple your granny's moustache and not a drop of 'wather'.
Aahh, if only........

Posted by John Murray on 01/06/2007
4
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Just got back from Dornoch last week and have to say I'm suprised at the comments of the previous poster, though to be fair we did play on the medal tees.
What can i say about the place that i haven't said already - it's a must play before you die course. The gorse is out in bloom already, the greens in great nick, the course as fantastic as ever. And what's more, we had great weather.
Can't compliment them enough both on and off the course - the staff really do want to do anything they can for you, right up to the Club Secretary/Manager John Duncan who always makes us feel welcome.
Worth both the effort to get there and every penny spent.

Posted by Richard Lupton on 10/04/2007
5
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Played on 9/03/07. This was the second time i played Dornoch, the first was awesome, off the normal tees for £65 (a fair price) in October, however, the whole character of the course is destroyed by the winter tees being moved so far forward, and for £50 is a rip off, a more reasonable price would be £30. It is still a very picturesque seaside links, but without the challenge the course loses its X-factor.

Posted by Darshan Vashee on 27/03/2007
2
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It is difficult to put into words the experience that is visiting Royal Dornoch.
Prior to my visit, I had read the usual endless articles that pushed Dornoch to the forfront of all golfers "must play" lists. Having visited and played, it is easy to see why so many marvel at the course.
The course is second to none that I have played, and I include the likes of the the Old Course at St Andrews in that list. With the gorse in bloom and fine weather abound, I find it difficult to imagine a more beautiful setting for a true test of golf.
Having played many courses, I find myself drawn to remember them by the odd hole or two if lucky, but with Dornoch where do you start to remember? The 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th . . . the list is endless, and photo opportunites beckon at every corner.
The course is, as one would suspect, in fabulous condition. The greens are kept to the highest standards, the fairways cut to a tight finish. All this set to a backdrop of gorse, bent, whin, sea and views for miles around. What is pleasing, and pleasantly surprising, is the the warm welcome extended to us as visitors by both staff and members alike, and the distinct lack of "stuffiness" that abounds at so many other courses of lesser history, standing and quality.
Royal Dornoch is a "must play before I die" course for any golfer. A pearl, the very best I have had the pleasure of playing and one I look forward to travelling 450 miles to play many times again in the future.

Posted by Richard Lupton on 16/01/2007
5
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This was the climax of Scotland 2006. In the previous week we'd done Gleneagles Queen's, Tarbat, Tain, Brora, Boat of Garten and Golspie. But the best had very deliberately been left till last.
Everything about Royal Dornoch gently echoes the fact that this place is rightly revered as one of the finest courses in the world.
The first hole is a gentle opener but the par 3 2nd is, along with the 6th here, among the two best par 3s I've ever played. Tom Watson once said that the hardest shot in golf was the second at the 2nd at Dornoch – and if you miss the outrageously domed green you'll see why. However, I think the sixth is an even better hole, where it's basically a case of stick it on the green or face some very painful consequences.
But one of the many things that's wonderful about Dornoch is that it is genuinely playable for the average golfer. Most of the outward nine is played out along a shelf underneath a gorse covered bluff, which provides elevated tee shots that really encourage you to be confident with your drives. The rough is also wispy enough to allow you to find your ball, but of course has a tendency to wrap itself around the clubhead when you strike your next shot. Just avoid the gorse at all costs because anything in there is a total goner.
Holes 5 (another of Tom Watson's favourites), 8 and 9 are all absolutely first class. And coming back, there's no let up. There are long par 4s at 11, 14 (the famous Foxy) and 18, although thankfully the wind was behind us for these.
My only criticism of the layout is that 15 and in particular 16 feel a bit weak and out of kilter in comparison to the rest of the course.
At £75 for a single round it is a fair bit of money to play here. However, all things are relative - this is after all one of the world's greatest courses and that money makes it seem a steal compared to some of the ridiculously over-inflated prices in England. In fact, if Royal Dornoch was located even 150 miles further south in Scotland, the green fees would be double what they are.
Overall it is just a superlative golf experience. Can you believe we came across some Yanks earlier in the week who said of Dornoch "gee, it's just a glorified cow pasture". What a bunch of total philistines.
I can't imagine that perhaps apart from Turnberry and RCD anywhere else in Britain has got the stunning scenery and seclusion to match Royal Dornoch. The whole ambience of the place is captivating: even as an outsider who's come from hundreds of miles away, it feels like a golfing home. And at the end of it all, there's a wonderful modern clubhouse in which you can soak up the history of the place.
Play well at Royal Dornoch and it will be a memory you will treasure forever. I came away with 38 points and I know I'll never forget it.
But all good things must come to an end and this was the end of the road for the Scotland 2006 tour - well, apart from the 650 mile drive back to London. See you somewhere out on the Great British links next summer...
9.8/10
'Young P'

Posted by 'Young P' on 28/08/2006
5
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After 25 years of visiting and golfing in Scotland, I finally scheduled a visit to Dornoch. Flew in from Dallas with my 15 year old daughter. Spent two days in the Ft. William area and played the Isle of Skye. Then we drove to Dornoch, arriving Thursday evening, 22 June, 2006. Checked in with the pro and booked a tee time, "leading the field" the next morning at 0756. Royal Dornoch was everything I had expected and I now know why it is Tom Watson's "favorite course in the world"! Tremendous layout, fabulous par 3s, and but for the 17th, everything was easy to follow. The 17th turned out to be spectacular, but I was lucky and didn't roll through the fairway. The yellow flowers, green grass, blue sky, and North Sea, painted a perfect picture of Heaven! One beautiful place that should remain untouched for centuries to come! A must visit for every serious golfer! My daughter was amazed! And so was I! Simply spectacular!

Posted by Jim Greider on 03/08/2006
5
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Played Royal Dornoch (2 rounds a day) in '99, 2001 and will play it twice in June of 2004. We've played all the big name courses multiple times, but if I could play two courses the day before I died - they would be Dornoch and Cruden Bay. Dornoch combines great holes, great views and when the wind howls - it is impossible - but that's why we keep coming back. It doesn't get any better.

Posted by Bob Brien on 26/02/2004
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I played your championship course on May 27 2002.Brilliant,awesome, great fun. Had a hole in one at #6 Whinnie brea.thrill of a life time ,thank you Royal Donoch.

Posted by Joel King on 07/12/2002
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This course is another wonderful layout! I played in August 2002 on my Scottish golfing Marathon (Macharanish to Turnberry to Western Gailes to Troon to Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle to Royal Dornoch to Cruden Bay to Old Course at St. Andrews to Kingsbarns to Old Course again to Muirfield. While not at the top of this impressive list, Royal Dornoch is a MUST. This is pure golf in a pure setting. 8th hole is a bit squirrly. But 9 is a great seaside Par 5. All in all--a fine course

Posted by Nelson Berry on 31/08/2002
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The hardest course I have ever played. You will stand on the tee thinking- this is OK- DON'T be FOOLED.
That said it is also the BEST course I have ever played- very welcoming people and staff, the experience, even the weather, everything in fact.
Also stayed at the Parfour guest house (see comments below) and can highly recommend it- the lady who runs it (Sandy Young) is extremely helpful and knowledgeable about golf in the area.

Posted by Blair Logie on 08/09/2001
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I played the cheaper of the two courses, the Struie. It was in fantastic condition - but in 60 mph winds like when I played is a bit of a joke. I must have lost about 10 balls! Very friendly and welcoming especially as it's a "Royal".

Posted by Jamie Barber on 05/09/2001
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Played here August 1999.
Wow, what a great experience. It is the type of course that you could never tire of. Hole after hole, just keeps getting better. It has the the most natural feel of any course in Scotland. Stayed at the Dornoch Castle Hotel, just a short walk from the course. Simply the best! Loved Foxy!

Posted by John Metzger on 17/09/2000
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forgot to put my e-mail address at end of comment.

Posted by tom morris on 29/03/1998
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RDGC is one of the last bastions of a "real golf experience" that is\r\n Where else can one be started by a smiling Scot in \r\nkilts: enter the most natural golf world; take a l3 on a par 3 hole(a\r\nlittle sand problem followed by a breach of etiquette);play the best\r\nl4th hole in the world;drink too many Dornoch ales; drink not too many\r\ndrams of Glenmorangie;taste the best muscle stew ever;meet the most \r\nkindly people in the world and experience the perfect golf weather and\r\nhave the hardest shot on any course be the second shot at the "Ord"\r\n(a par three) after one has missed the green. Finally aview from atop \r\nBeauly amidst the sounds of bagpipes looking down on the Firth.\r\n

Posted by tom morris on 15/03/1998
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4 of us played 11 course in 7 days in Sept-Oct 97. Royal Dornoch was by far the prettiest and memorable course. Among the others we played were:\r\nThe Old Course, The New Course, Carnoustie Championship, Royal Troon, Nairn, Socttcraig and others. We still talk about the beauty of Royal Dornoch as our favorite. I highly recommend it.\r\n

Posted by Clark Hubbard on 06/03/1998
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I may be of some assistance re: your unidentified photos. I have played Royal Dornoch GC several times and have many pictures (and fond memories) of the course. As such, here are some descriptions which hopefully will answer some of your questions:\r\n\r\nThe third photo (the first unidentifiable photo), showing a 3-some on a tee hard by the Dornoch Firth, is (I believe) a photo of the 15th green and 16th tee when viewed from near the 3rd tee.\r\n\r\nThe fourth and sixth photos in the gallery, showing a green with two bunkers short-right and shorter-left, are photos of the 17th green when viewed from the path to the 18th tee. The second photo in the gallery is probably the 18th green (if you compare the 1st and 2nd photos, you will see the same starter's shed, a small white building, in the background - that's the starter for the short course, if memory serves...)\r\n\r\nThe fifth photo, showing a bird in the center, backlit with the sun, and a golfer with a trolley near the tee, the fairway lined either side with gorse, is a photo of the 7th tee when viewed from the area along the left side of the fairway but in front of the houses above the fairway. This one is up for debate - I'm fairly confident, but am not completely certain...It could be a view of the 8th tee, but I don't remember gorse on the left of the top of the 8th fairway.\r\n\r\nThe seventh and last photo, showing a fairway in the foreground lined on either side with gorse, and another fairway in the background, with gorse on its right and the ocean on its left is a photo across the end of the 8th fairway (the green's front would be at the far left of the photo) toward the middle of the 9th fairway. As I recall, the 8th hole is a medium-length par four where the fairway drops off precipitously to the right and down the hill to a swale about 80 yards short of the green; the ninth is a par five hard by the sea. The view in your photo seems to match those characteristics.\r\n\r\nThe photos are splendid! If I can be of any other assistance, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.\r\n\r\nBest regards,\r\n\r\nChris Bradish

Posted by cbradish@amgen.com on 08/01/1998
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We had the pleasure to play Dornach in March 1997. The staff was very kind\r\nand helpful, as our clubs did not make the trip the same time we did. They were\r\nconcerned and did us a great service to make sure our playing was enjoyable.\r\nThe weather and course were wonderfully "Scottish." What a marvelous setting\r\nand feeling of playing a magnificent course. I'll be back!

Posted by Andy Alley on 12/11/1997
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For your information the pictures are as follows:\r\n3. 15th green/16th tee 5. 17th fairway 7. 17th fairway (dogleg)\r\n4.& 6. are both views of the 17th green\r\n\r\nLady Captain Royal Dornoch\r\nHostess of Parfour guest house, Dornoch\r\n\r\n

Posted by Sandy Young on 18/10/1997
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Dornoch Is The Finest Course I Have Ever Played And Ever Expect To Play...it's Golf Heaven On Earth

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My Name Is Thomas Norgren And I Played The Course 1986(i Went To Scotland Too See The Open At Turnberry). I Loved The Course And I Will Play It Again If Its Possible.

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Course information

Number of holes 18
Year opened -
Designer -
Style Links

Tee information

Tees Yards Par SSS
Competition
Men's 6514 70
Ladies'

Green Fees

Summer/High season

Weekday round£82
Weekday day-
Weekend round£92
Weekend day-

Winter/Low season

Weekday round-
Weekday day-
Weekend round-
Weekend day-

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Where is Royal Dornoch Golf Club?

Golf breaks at Royal Dornoch Golf Club