Nairn Golf Club – The Championship Course

As a seaside resort in the Scottish Highlands, the thriving Royal burgh of Nairn is brimming with history and home to an impressive links golf course. The Nairn Golf Club has been attracting visitors from far and wide since its opening in 1887, with an impressive array of photographs, trophies, books and artefacts in the Clubhouse’s Archive room. 

In this blog post, we’ve shared some of our favourite places to eat, shop and visit in this beautiful Scottish town, as well as our top tips for playing The Championship Course at Nairn Golf Club as part of the Old Tom Morris Trail… 

Course Overview

AddressNairn Golf Club, Seabank Rd, Nairn IV12 4HB
Location 16 miles northeast of Inverness
Style Links
Length6,125 yards
Championships Hosted1994 and 2021 Amateur Championship and the Walker Cup in 1999, the Curtis Cup 2021

Course design

Many hands have shaped the course at Nairn to make it the fantastic course that it is today, offering incredible views of the Moray Firth, Black Isle and Cawdor Hills, with demanding greens and angular short holes to challenge any keen golfer. 

The first seven holes head to the west, except a short par-3 fourth hole leading back towards the sandy beach. Depending on the weather conditions, this could be a tough grind or the most enjoyable coastal stretch in Scotland. The fifth hole provides a real test for any player, requiring you to play over the previous green to avoid heading towards the beach, with vertical revetted bunkers awaiting even the slightest stray drive.

The historic Bothy acts as a charming halfway house after the ninth green, before a generous birdie opportunity awaits you at the tenth hole which is followed by a tough stretch from the twelfth to the fourteenth hole. This is a challenging part of the course, with elevation provides players with a true test of their yardages. The picturesque closing stretch offers a chance for players to take in the glorious surroundings as they approach the clubhouse with a brilliant par-5 eighteenth hole.

Course history

The original design by Andrew Simpson lasted two years at Nairn Golf Club before Old Tom Morris began extending it westward along the scenic coastline in 1890. These modifications led to the course being considered one of the finest and best links Scotland by 1900.

The most significant change to the course layout took place 20 years after Old Tom left his mark when the five times Open Champion, James Braid (and the first to break 70 par here in 1901), altered tees and bunkers before creating more subtle greens. In 2018 the Club undertook a large renovation project of the Championship course from renowned Architects Mackenzie and Ebert.

Nairn Golf Club has hosted a number of prestigious events, including the Amateur Championship in 1994 and 2021, the Walker cup in 1999 and the Curtis cup in 2021.

Regional history

Set within the north-east of Scotland on the southern shores of the Moray Firth, Nairn is a historic Scottish town and county, with evidence of inhabitants dating back as far as the 4th century. It’s grown from a traditional fishing port and market town, to a seaside resort during the Victorian era, enjoying one of the sunniest climates the country has to offer.

Nairn is closely linked to the last land battle of Great Britain – the Battle of Culloden – where the Jacobites were defeated in their uprising in 1745. 

Local hospitality and retail

Where to stay

As a popular tourist resort just 17 miles from the capital of the Scottish Highlands – Inverness – Nairn and the surrounding area is home to a number of outstanding hotels to make you feel right at home while you explore this fantastic part of Scotland.

Closeby you’ll find historic hotels such as the beautiful Victorian home, The Westerlea Hotel, or the stunning Edwardian villa, Ramnee Hotel, which boasts a popular restaurant and a selection of the finest Speyside malts and boutique gins to indulge in after a day of golf. 

Nestled on the periphery of Nairn Golf Course and just a 15 minute drive from Inverness Airport is Muthu Newton Hotel. Set within 21 acres of parkland and gardens to look out on from your room, the hotel features elegant interiors and an excellent restaurant named after Charlie Chaplin, who frequented the hotel regularly.

The Golf View Hotel & Spa is the ultimate stay on your golfing adventure, with open-air hot tubs, tennis courts, relaxing spa treatments and breathtaking coastal scenery to take in from your room or as you stroll along the beach. 

Boath House offers an idyllic Scottish experience after a long day on the course or sightseeing, the perfect place to unwind. Near Findhorn Bay, on Scotland’s northern coast, this hotel is truly unique. With ten tastefully renovated bedrooms, a 400-year-old walled garden, a restaurant and a sauna studio, it is a haven away from urban bustle.

Where to eat

In addition to the restaurants within Nairn’s outstanding hotels, the town has plenty more to offer when it comes to welcoming hospitality venues. The Classroom Bar & Bistro is a chic and well established restaurant in the centre of Nairn, with a philosophy centred around locally sourced, quality ingredients that are served with a smile.

Another popular eatery within Nairn is Ozzy’s, where you can enjoy delicious food in a relaxed and informal dining experience, whether you’re looking for a light lunch, a three course meal or a tasty takeaway. For dinner with a view, Sun Dancer Bar & Restaurant allows you to enjoy the finest seafood and steak the area has to offer, along with spectacular views of the Moray Firth.

Where to shop

In Nairn you’ll find a variety of unique independent shops where you can buy charming keepsakes and memorable gifts from your Highland adventure. Discover ladies fashion and accessories at boutique stores – Bramble and Ink and Pink, or you can find charming crafts and gifts at Crafty Wee Birdie and beautiful Scottish contemporary art at The Brae Gallery.

For some proper retail therapy, Inverness is only a short drive from Nairn and offers plenty of shops, particularly in the Eastgate Shopping Centre. Here you’ll find an array of well known brands across clothing, jewellery and gifts, from Crew Clothing Company and H&M, to Pandora, H Samuel, Hotel Chocolat and so much more.

The Crafty Wee Birdie

Iconic landmarks

Although Nairn is a small town, it is a treasure trove of historic landmarks and rugged scenery many come to expect from the Scottish Highlands. From the iconic Culloden Battlefield and 12th century ruins of Rait Castle – originally built by the Mackintosh family – to the magnificent Cawdor Castle and gardens and popular Nairn Museum, there is a rich history waiting to be discovered. 

For those who love to wander and explore, there are plenty of scenic trails and hidden gems. Close to Inverness is Scotland’s longest masonry viaduct – a striking piece of architecture with 29 arches towering over the scenic countryside. For a breath of fresh air, you can also take a stroll through the tranquil Culbin Forest, or along the Moray Firth.

The best photo spots

  • Nairn Beach
  • Moray Firth
  • Cawdor Castle
  • Dulsie Bridge
  • Brodie Castle

Our top tips for playing this course

  • Missing left is usually better than missing right!
  • If you end up on the beach, if you find it, you can play it!
  • Enjoy putting on famous and pure Nairn greens
  • Ask to the pro-shop staff to see the iconic Archive Room in the clubhouse
  • Look out for the club’s ‘Suggestions Box’ on the 15th tee

Watch Stephen Proctor’s Nairn Dispatch here

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