Royal Dornoch’s timeless setting makes it such a pleasing place to play golf and is the very reason why it’s often quoted as one of the must-play courses around the world. It's wild, isolated and, at the same time, absolutely beautiful; there's the blaze of colour in early summer when the gorse is in flower. The pure white sandy beach divides the links from the Dornoch Firth and it all feels very humbling. Formed in 1877, Royal Dornoch aims to place an emphasis on traditional highland hospitality that characterises a relaxed, informal environment, whilst exceeding expectations of visitors and members alike. There are two courses at Royal Dornoch; The Championship course, and the Struie course. Although lesser-known than the fabled Championship Course, the Struie is enjoyable and entertaining whilst challenging even the lower handicap golfers, whilst supporting a modest green fee.
The curving bay of the Dornoch Firth and its magnificent white broad beaches are backed by a narrow strip of softly contoured dune land rising in two distinctive levels, providing just enough room for parallel fairways. The ridges, hillocks, dunes and undulating links land have all the characters of the best of links courses, and most of the difficulties. The first eight holes follow the ridge and the remaining ten holes played in the opposite direction are bounded, except the 17th and 18th on the left by the sandy beaches of the firth.
The par of 70 is evenly distributed over the two halves each having two par threes, a par five and six par fours. If the wind blows the course will demand more from the player especially the par four finishing hole where a par can be considered a birdie. Old Tom Morris was the architect responsible for extending the original 9 holes layout to 18 holes in 1886. He introduced the plateau greens which are the soul of the course, their uniqueness lies in their size and their inverted saucer shapes.
The course as it now stands is a final remodelling largely the work of George Duncan with influence from Robbie Grant the then Head Greenkeeper, the new holes are in keeping with and incorporate the features Old Tom Morris introduced to Dornoch. The holes form the present 6th to the 11th loop and were constructed in the late 1940’s after the 2nd world war. The course is routinely in immaculate condition with the wiry fine fescue grasses giving a true ‘running game’ experience. Golf Digest has recently placed Dornoch as its 2nd ‘best’ course in the world outside the USA, only behind Royal County Down in GB&I, that is placed first, with Muirfield and St Andrews Old as 9th and 10th. Dornoch is firmly on the overseas visitors’ circuit, now often combined with Castle Stuart.
Royal Dornoch offers both informal and formal dining. The bar area and dining room overlook the 1st Tee and have spectacular views of the Dornoch Firth. The cuisine at Royal Dornoch continually develops in taste and style, the quality of which has met with worldwide approval. The local produce is of the highest quality, much sought-after and exported around the world. Almost all dishes are locally sourced, and all their menu items are prepared in-house. They offer full cooked breakfasts, pastries, cakes, and tea/coffee, whilst supporting an all-day menu that’s available until 21.00.
The golf facilities are open seven days a week, and players are welcome to utilise all facilities including lockers, showers and drying facilities. Caddies and trolley rentals are available; however, golf carts are only available for hire for people with medical reasons. Practice facilities at Royal Dornoch include driving nets, a short game area and putting green beside the clubhouse. Golf balls are not supplied. Other facilities include a links academy, where coaching packages are available from PGA qualified golf professionals and the well-stocked pro-shop will meet all of your tangible golfing requirements.