Nairn Golf Club Championship Course Review

Gorse-lined, criss-crossed by burns and pockmarked by perilous pot bunkers, the newly upgraded Nairn delivers typical Scottish links golf

Nairn Golf Club

Gorse-lined, criss-crossed by burns and pockmarked by perilous pot bunkers, the newly upgraded Nairn delivers typical Scottish links golf

Nairn Golf Club Championship Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 35

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 38 2017/18 - 33 2015/16 - 34 2013/14 - 30 2011/12 - 30 2009/10 - 25

Summer Green Fees

Round: £160-£190; 36 holes: £285

Visitor Times: Mon-Fri: 10am to 11.50am and 1.30pm to 3.50pm. Sat-Sun: after 1pm

Medal Tee: Par 71 – 6,426 Yards

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Changes since previous ranking

Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie and Ebert has overseen a wholesale remodelling of the links, which started in winter 2018 and was completed in March 2020. All 18 holes have been altered, some more than others, with new bunkering, new tees and three new greens.

The main objective was to present a challenge to the very best players, but the addition of some new forward tees and the filling-in of unwanted bunkers ensures that players of all abilities will enjoy what Nairn has to offer.

Nairn Golf Club Championship Course Review

Old Tom Morris and James Braid both had a significant hand in the shaping of this fine old links on the Moray Firth.

The holes play mostly along the Firth in either direction, save for a brief foray up and away in the middle of the back nine where the feel becomes more heathland for a few holes with magnificent views.

Nairn Golf Club

The links at Nairn starts out right beside the Moray Firth

Other than that, it is essentially an out-and-back routing with the Firth lurking close on the right for much of the front nine, though the beach is not out of bounds should you stray.

Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland

Dating from 1887, this superb links has welcomed many important competitions over the years, including the 1999 Walker Cup and 2012 Curtis Cup. The Amateur Championship visits for a second time in June 2021.

This is a thinker’s course with testing greens and run-off areas demanding careful placement.

There are many excellent and often well-bunkered holes, plus some magnificent views, especially from the elevated tee of the long par-3 14th playing back down towards the Firth.

Nairn Golf Club

The 6th is one of many greens protected by bunkers and run-offs

Major improvements

The club has recently invested not far short of £1 million in improvements overseen by Tom Mackenzie, designed to take the course up a level in terms of aesthetics, strategy and playability.

Some 39 former revetted fairway bunkers given a rough-edged makeover, with many greenside bunkers remodelled or sometimes removed.

Nairn Golf Club

The Firth is on your right as you head out
(Image credit: Mark Alexander)

Eleven new tees have been added and three other tee complexes relocated; the 1st, 7th and 14th now have new greens; and a number of open sand areas have been introduced.

The goal was to ensure that Nairn can still challenge the game’s best, while becoming just a little more playable for the members and visitors who account for most of the play.

Nairn Golf Club

The 16th hole at Nairn
(Image credit: Mark Alexander)

Most would agree that Mackenzie’s changes have cleverly achieved this delicate and unenviable balancing act.

Assessor Feedback

A tough opening stretch recently remodelled to test all levels of golfer. Rewards accuracy and imagination. Spellbinding views across the Firth.

The beauty of Nairn may not be instantly apparent as with some of the other links boasting towering dunes or untamed scenery. But it has an endearing character of its own in the summer with gently undulating dunes framed by stunning yellow-blooming gorse and broom.

GM Verdict

Gorse-lined, criss-crossed by burns and pockmarked by perilous pot bunkers, the newly upgraded Nairn delivers typical Scottish links golf.


Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response