DURNESS

Durness

Durness GC members supply the club with their photographic images.
This one is believed to have been taken by Alistair Morrison and permission for use granted by Lucy McKay

 

Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Cabot Links in Newfoundland, and Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania. There’s definitely been a shift towards wilderness locations in the golf world, and if we at Faraway Fairways were forced into predicting where the next Scottish golf resort might be, we’d probably err on the side of bravery, and suggest Durness! The extreme north coast of Scotland is the most brutal and savage, and yet the most stunningly awe inspiring. Fractured cliff faces that have met cruel Arctic winds for millennia rise out the turbulent ocean below. Pristine golf land is cherished in this environment, and yet this is what the dedicated souls of Durness have persevered with and cultivated. It just goes to prove, that where Scotland is concerned, golf runs deep, and is truly etched into all corners of the country

  

Founded 1988
Yardage 2762 yds and 2793 yds
5555 yds in total if played as 18 holes
Par 35 or 70
Handicap Restrictions No handicap restrictions apply

 

Durness

The Course itself

The first golf match in Durness took place in April 1987 when a temporary course hosted a game between Durness and Kinlochbervie over eighteen holes. By May, circumstances had changed and the stony land at Culiken, the stretch of land behind Balnakeil Cemetery started to be cleared for a nine-hole golf course. Not unlike Askernish, the growth of Durness is testimony to the dedication of a small band of enthusiasts. In many respects the task that the three founders faced was even more difficult given that they didn’t inherit a Tom Morris links. Nearly all the work in the early stages was done by hand with minimal equipment available. They deserve every golfer’s admiration really.

Durness is a nine hole, cliff top layout, with some links characteristics. Maintenance was always going to be an issue with limited members and a climate that couldn’t always be relied upon to co-operate. In the early days of the St Andrews Old Course they resolved this by having massive double greens. Durness elected instead to establish nine greens, but eighteen different tees. Each of the nine holes on the course offers a different view, and a different challenge but with a different set of tees for inward nine, the views stay the same but the challenge changes slightly. It all conspires in a cunning cocktail to lend a real 18 hole feel.

The setting at Durness is spectacular. As is the journey just to get there. One of the other benefits of the nine holes multiplied by two tee box solution, is that you get a couple of bites at any ‘great’ hole. The tenth and eighteenth are just that. The closing hole came to people’s attention in 1996 when veteran BBC golf commentator, Peter Alliss played it and featured it in his TV programme “Travels with Alliss”. Spectacular to say the least. It’s a Par 3 that involves playing over a rocky inlet with the waves rushing below, to a green beyond the carry. It’s really no exaggeration to suggest it has similarities with Turnberry’s iconic ninth, albeit about 100yds shorter

Another clever piece of positioning concerns the clubhouse. This is built on an elevated position to afford those inside a panoramic view across the bay, whilst also gazing down on the final tee and green below. It’s actually a superb spot to simply sit and watch and wile away time.

The ‘back story’ to Durness is warming, but the golf is actually pretty good too, and it would be a mistake to lose sight of this. Top100golfcourses.co.uk report that a recent survey rated Durness Scotland’s second best nine hole course. We haven’t been able to locate this survey sadly, but have no reason to doubt the source. It means Durness has seen off competition from some famous names such as Turnberry, Cruden Bay, St Andrews and Carnoustie (Carnoustie’s Buddon links would have been nine holes when the survey was conducted). That’s impressive just to be keeping this kind of company, but the simple fact is, over nine holes Durness can more than match these. We also liked the course review that said “we gave it six balls (maximum rating) as we couldn’t think of anywhere we’d rather play next or last round of golf”

Sadly there is no workable course map or scorecard for Durness to link this page to. Something tells us there will be soon however! We wouldn’t be at all surprised to be hearing a lot more about this golfing outpost in the future. It actually has all the raw ingredients to become a mid ranking player.

 

Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs

Driving range No
Rental Carts Available No
complete the course on foot
Rental Trolleys Yes
Caddies No
Rental Clubs Available Yes
Pro Shop No

 

When playing Scotland you are very much in the heartland of the sports traditions. In a lot of cases this won’t extend to 20th century inventions such as buggies/ carts. You are invited to take a step-back into history to a large extent and play a round in the manner more akin to how the game was originally conceived.

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