Spey Bay Golf Links & Hotel

Spey Bay Golf Links & Hotel, Spey Bay, Highlands and Islands, Scotland, IV32 7PJ

01343820424 | E-mail golf course

13 reviews of Spey Bay Golf Links & Hotel

Played spey bay several times and really enjoyed the course.
Fairways are different from other links courses their softer but the ball
always sits up making fairway shots easier.
Tee positions are good, you always feel at easy when teeing off.
Greens are fine but your always tested for length and speed on them.
When looking across the Moray Firth which on a clear day you can see for miles around.
When finishing your round the bar and the people behind it are friendly, and good food is at hand.


Posted by Peter Mann on 12/10/2015
4
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Overall Rating 4
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  • Green conditions4
  • Clubhouse4
  • Course challenge4
  • Staff service5
  • Value for money5
  • Green conditions4
  • Clubhouse4
  • Course challenge4
  • Staff service5
  • Value for money5

A Review of Spey Bay Golf Course - April 2013.

The true appreciation of a golf course should only be judged on the experience of your journey from the 1st tee to the 18th green and with all due respect, the rest is just cake decoration.

In Spey Bay’s case this is a wonderful journey. The undulating firm fescue fairways with gorse and heather in abundance and views over the Moray Firth, all play their part in this “sleeping beauty” of a classic natural links.

The layout resembles the Old Course at St Andrews with seven holes out, the loop, and then seven back in. Yes it’s short and now reduced to a par 70 with small greens but rarely does it enjoy a calm day, which ensures that the skills you acquire playing here will stand you in good stead to play anywhere.

The course opens with three par 4’s which introduce you to the one of Spey Bays best features, the fescue clad shingle banks which you must plot your way across. The long 1st hole at 427 yards affords the luxury of a wide open drive which then leads you down to the green and enthusiasts of fine links turf will already be appreciating what awaits them. Holes two and three are shorter but full of character, aim for the Bin Hill in the distance and you’ll be fine, the only downside is that they are possibly too tight for their position on the score card. For reasons that will become very clear I’ll comment on the 4th 6th 12th and 13th later. The 5th, stroke index 1, which says it all, has a much more open drive than in years gone by but with a very undulating fairway and approach to the small green can prove very tricky with a long iron, the layout is more typically suited to a par 5. The 7th offers you a wide open drive, the first for a while and there is an interesting slope leading onto the green that can catch you out. In the summer this dries out and can insure that your next shot is from the gully at the back of the green. Some would arguably call the 8th the signature hole at Spey Bay, when you experience the 138 yard par 3 named Plateau the only advice I can give you here is keep your head down on your second shot. Signature hole or not you will not forget it. The 2nd hole at Royal Dornoch is tricky but nothing compared to Spey Bay’s 8th. Onto the 9th which comes with a change in direction heading back to the clubhouse, a short par 5 aptly named the Valley with out-of-bounds on the left and gorse on the right. On the card it looks like a birdie chance, but be glad of a five and walk to the 10th tee adding up your first nine, anything under forty and you’re doing well.

The 10th completes the loop and then the tricky 11th, so typical of the shorter par 4s at Spey Bay, on the card it appears simple but treated it with a lack of respect and you will be left wondering where it all went wrong. The 14th, my favourite, was originally 300 yards and has been greatly improved with the addition of 105 yards making this a wonderful par 4, stroke index 2, with a fairway that would grace any Open Championship venue, a flattish green situated between two shingle banks that is normally approached from at an angle across the banks. You will see what I mean when you play it yourself. I always feel when playing a course for the first time the same as when watching a good film, I’m hoping for a really good ending, and Spey Bay delivers this with the last four holes, none of which are give aways, and into the prevailing wind will show you what you’re made of, so I’ll not spoil the ending and leave you to discover this for yourself.

The four holes that I left out of the previous paragraph were not part of the original layout planned by Ben Sayers in 1907. The original layout unfortunately had to be hastily altered due to coastal erosion in the late 1980’s. This erosion caused the loss of the entire 11th hole and 13th green and forced the removal of the 4th & 6th holes. The subsequent alterations resulted in four completely new holes. The new 6th hole is so out of character for Spey Bay it begs the question why Ben Sayers’s original 6th hole is not reinstated albeit with a subtle change up at the green. This hole was brilliant in design, driving the ball towards the Moray Firth, as so desired and incorporated by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse when designing Castle Stuart. The original 6th traversed the two large fescue clad shingle banks, yes short by modern standards at 304 yards but it would take a brave man nowadays to stand up with the modern driving equipment and attempt to reach the green or even to find the fairway that was cosseted by the awaiting gorse. The long 12th is the only new hole that comes close to being worthy of its place on Spey Bay. The unimpressive par 3, 13th is hopefully to be extended to a 300+ yard par 4 which should see the new green being situated on the fairway of the original 13th hole. With these alterations and a simple transfer of the Par 3, 4th back onto its original line, albeit shorter, would bring the course back closer to the original layout.

The only points of criticism I would mention, other than the new holes enforced by the coastal erosion is that the first six holes are too tight and unforgiving and that the first hole is about 30 - 40 yards too long. All too often the paying visitor or first time Open competitor is beaten before he has had a chance to reach the 7th tee, this does not encourage a hasty return. Also the majority of the greens are flat, however the 8th, 9th and 15th are not and watch out for the subtle ridge through the 18th green, a masterful touch by someone, long ago.

Historically the lack of money available to maintain this course has actually helped to preserve its natural condition, no automatic watering system or expensive fertilizer budget. Yes more money would help with course alterations and the demands for Greenkeeping machinery, maintenance and in the overall upkeep, but the present Greenkeeper, Barry Cruickshank, has already worked wonders on a shoestring budget to rescue the greens during the 2011/12 seasons back to a very good putting surface. A local businessman has recently purchased the property which grants him the lease of the golf course, so hopefully this will be the start of great things for Spey Bay, never has a course deserved it more.


No fancy ponds, no striped fairways to show which direction to play, no buggy tracks, no huge meaningless bunkers and no hiding behind the delusions of grandeur that come with a magnificent new clubhouse, just golf as it was intended to be played.

Posted by Martin Cameron on 09/04/2013
4
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Overall Rating 4
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  • Green conditions4
  • Clubhouse3
  • Course challenge5
  • Staff service5
  • Value for money5
  • Green conditions4
  • Clubhouse3
  • Course challenge5
  • Staff service5
  • Value for money5

This course is one you must play if you are a lover of true links golf.Gorse lined undulating fairways,interesting holes and great views on a truly natural course.Even better since our last visit as a lot of time and effort has been to make some improvements to bunkers and facilities. A great bargain and better than many of the surrounding named courses.

Posted by A. Olvidado on 04/05/2011
3
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Thoroughly agree with J.Oublier.We had a super day here on a very natural course,unspoilt by man--- an unpretentious course-- with crisp fairways,interesting holes with whins to punish the wayward shot but room enough to open the shoulders.Super views,peaceful,easy to get a tee-time--all in all a very pleasurable experience,despite the lack of off-course facilities,(which is of little real importance to real golfers?) and need of a bit of work on the bunkers. Enjoyed this much more than some of the more expensive neighbours and would recommend it greatly

Posted by Habe Vergessen on 09/08/2010
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  • Clubhouse1
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This is a real,old fashioned links course that a true golfer is bound to enjoy.Lots of interesting and different holes,in a super setting.It does need a bit of loving care to bring it up to scratch ,but it well worth a visit.Crisp,natural shaped fairways,in a natural un spoilt-by-man setting----swathes of brilliant whins,views of the sea,and no problem to get a tee time.Very reasonable green fees make up for lack of other facilities.
We enjoyed this course a good deal more than other named,local courses we played on our little tour and look very much forward to going back.

Posted by Jay Oublier on 02/05/2010
3
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  • Clubhouse1
  • Course challenge4
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Spey Bay is a fun links golf course that any golfer would enjoy. It's relatively short distance becomes distorted by the coastal breeze. This adds to the enjoyment and challenge of the course. The course is suitable for any standard of golfer although the gorse lined fairways will not favour the wayward shot. The scenery, greens and freedom of the course (I saw three other groups during my three hour round!) far outway the disappointment and lack of off-course facilities. I'd highly recommend a visit to this course and will play it again.

Posted by Edward Lowe on 03/09/2007
3
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  • Clubhouse1
  • Course challenge4
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It's not a bad course but it just lacks something. Perhaps it's the lack of a club house at the 18th as the hotel is 300yards away. The course its self was a good test but the condition was not up to links standards. Still it was worth playing and it was reasonably cheap!

Posted by Michael Holmes on 13/07/2005
3
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  • Clubhouse2
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Spey Bay Links Golf Club is the lost jewel in the crown of Scottish links golf. This Ben Sayers course over the last year has much improved and continues to flourish under new management. The improvements to the course which I have witnessed over the past year are bringing this course back to life and a joy to play. No two holes are the same so boredom does not set in. The signature hole must be the eighth, 138 yard par three, depending on which way the wind is blowing will depend on whether you choose a pitching wedge or a three iron, just a fantastic hole. The best true Links in Moray. Play It!!

Posted by M B on 28/04/2004
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This is a delightful quiet 18 hole links course set out with a traditional 9 out and 9 back layout with the last 8 playing along the shoreline. The fairways were dry and undulating and the greens were true and firm which made you play proper links golf with loads of bumpa nd run shots. The course was very quiet for a weekend which made it even more enjoyable. We stayed at the superb Spey Bay hotel and saw the dolphins at the mouth of the spey during our stay. The hotel was run by some of the friendliest people you could wish to meet and they did eveything to make our stay enjoyable.

Posted by Ian Brown on 30/07/2003
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This course and its facilities have improved so much since change of ownership. I stayed in excellent accommodation, food and hospitality was outstanding. Perhaps K Chuck couldnt handle the test. Real links that all should enjoy.

Posted by IB on 16/09/2000
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There have been numerous improvements to this course and its on site Hotel and Golf lodges in the past 6 months the new owners are endeavouring to return it to its previous splendour. Now well worth a visit anytime of the year. A mini golf break is excellent value.

Posted on 05/09/2000
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Hard work. Boring. Does not live up to its potential. Tiny greens. If you want links golf play Morray (Lossiemouth) Old or New they are infinitely better. Or try Hopeman.

Posted by K Chuck on 19/07/1999
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None of the above hotels are within 10 miles of Fochabers, or within 15 miles of Spey Bay.

Posted on 09/11/1997
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Course information

Number of holes 18
Year opened -
Designer -
Style Links

Tee information

Tees Yards Par SSS
Competition
Men's 6092 70
Ladies'

Green Fees

Summer/High season

Weekday round£10
Weekday day£15
Weekend round£13
Weekend day£18

Winter/Low season

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

Facilities

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