Tain Golf Club

Nestled amongst the rugged Scottish Highlands on the Easter Ross peninsula, Tain offers a truly spectacular setting for a round of golf. Though it lies in the shadows of its iconic neighbour – Royal Dornoch – Tain is a hidden gem not to be overlooked. With scenic views over the Dornoch Firth and a prime location just off the A9 – Scotland’s main road to the highlands – the peaceful town of Tain is an ideal base for touring the highlands and of course, playing a round at one of Old Tom Morris’ iconic golf courses.

In this blog post, we’ve shared some of the details and history behind Tain Golf Course, which forms part of the Old Tom Morris Trail, as well as our favourite places to visit around the area…

Tain Golf Course
AddressTain Golf ClubChapel RoadTainRoss-ShireIV19 1JE
Location 34 miles north of Inverness
Style Links and heathland
Length6,404 yards
North Scotland Ranking13th

Course design

Tain is a golf course that embodies a sense of variety and challenge for all who visit, with stunning sea views on one side and breathtaking mountains on the other. Set within a sheltered location, you’re almost guaranteed favourable conditions all year round, however, that doesn’t make this course easy.

What makes Tain particularly unique is its combination of links and heathland, providing golfers with a combination of heather and gorse lining the fairways. Meandering through the course is the Aldie Burn, which comes into play at the par 4 second hole and will catch any under-hit approach shots. ‘The Alps’ is the famous 11th hole and requires a blind approach shot over the dunes to a hidden green. In the closing stretch golfers are faced with 2 back to back par 3s at 16 and 17.

Course history

Founded in 1890, Tain Golf Club quickly commissioned Old Tom Morris to design a course that would meet the growing demand of this increasingly popular sport. After a rigorous survey of the land, Old Tom could only find 15 suitable green sites, which is how the course initially opened. It was only in 1894 when more land was bought that Tain became a more recognisable 18 hole course.

The course was later altered slightly by John Sutherland, but despite this Old Tom’s original vision is still undeniably present, with 11 of his greens still in use today.

Regional history

Tain is a small, yet flourishing town on the Dornoch Firth, whose biggest claim to fame came in 1066, when King Malcolm III made it the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland as he granted the very first charter to the town. Much of this chartership was owed to Duthac, an early Christian figure who became an official saint in 1419 and offered an important place of pilgrimage in Scotland through his shrine, The Duthac Chapel. 

King James VI visited at least once a year throughout his reign in the 16th century in pursuit of spiritual and political goals, and Robert the Bruce sent his wife and children to Tain for safety during the first war of Scottish independence (1296-1328), before they were unfortunately captured and sent to Edward I of England.

Local hospitality and retail

Where to stay

As a coastal town in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, Tain offers a number of charming hotels for visitors looking to explore the region. The Royal Hotel is a landmark building which sits proudly at the head of the High Street, complete with 25 tastefully decorated en-suite bedrooms to rest your head after a day on the links.

If you’re hoping to sample some iconic Glenmorangie whisky during your stay in Tain, the luxurious boutique hotel, Glenmorangie House, is in a prime location just moments away from the distillery. Other excellent hotels in the surrounding areas include the tranquil Aspen Spa, as well as Dornoch’s magnificent Royal Golf Hotel and the 5 star award winning Links House.


Where to eat

To refuel after a round of golf, Tain has a number of outstanding restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy incredible food and welcoming hospitality. Greens is a delightful restaurant on Tain’s High Street, an array of mouthwatering dishes using the finest local ingredients, including a wide range of vegan options. For a unique dining experience, Platform 1864 is a much loved restoration project of Tain’s original train station building, featuring quirky rail themed decor, a warm, welcoming atmosphere and delicious food served all day.


Where to shop

For gifts and mementos from your trip to the Highlands, Tain has a number of unique local shops to browse. Glass Storm is firmly established as an expert in bespoke, luxury glass products, while The Tain Pottery has become one of the largest Scottish ceramic manufacturers, and is a treasure trove of hand made and hand painted ceramics – both perfect if you’re gift shopping or looking for a tasteful souvenir.

Of course, no Scottish golfing trip is complete without picking up a bottle of the area’s finest local whisky. The iconic Glenmorangie distillery is located in Tain, where their single malt has been lovingly crafted and created since 1843. Although it is perhaps lesser known than the Glemorangie name, Balblair distillery is the oldest in the region, founded in 1790, and produces exceptional single malt whisky with a distinctive flavour that is made using the finest ingredients. 

Iconic landmarks

As the oldest Royal Burgh of Scotland, Tain is a town that is steeped in history and surrounded by iconic landmarks that tell its fascinating story. The three most significant buildings are the mediaeval St Duthac Collegiate Church, the Tain and District Museum and the Clan Ross Visitor Centre – all set within a scenic churchyard for you to experience the town through the ages, from the Bronze age and Viking burials, to mediaeval times.

Along the 9-mile coastal circuit you’ll find a mediaeval castle, the beautiful ‘Mermaid of the North’ statue in Balintore and the Tarbat Ness lighthouse at the end of the Tain peninsula. Meanwhile, further inland you can take a hike up Tain Hill to discover Pulpit Rock, a fascinating piece of history that was left behind by the last glaciers.

The surrounding area of Easter Ross is also peppered with a number of historic landmarks and viewpoints for you to explore. From ruined churches and castles, to forests, pretty beaches, striking cliffs and tranquil lochs, this area is perfect for a Scottish adventure in the Highlands.

The best photo spots

  • Portmahomack
  • Shandwick Bay
  • Fyrish Monument
  • Mermaid Of the North

Our top tips for Tain

  • Get a picture with the statue of Old Tom Morris
  • Take advantage of the par 5s
  • Bring your short game
  • Avoid the Aldie Burn at all costs
  • Stay out of the heather

Watch Stephen Proctor’s Tain Dispatch here

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