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Fergus Bisset travelled north to see the New 7th hole at Royal Dornoch, stunningly altered as per leading architect Tom Mackenzie’s design
Paul Lawrie Officially Opens New 7th Hole At Royal Dornoch
Paul Lawrie fittingly made a birdie on the new 7th hole at Royal Dornoch to mark its official opening on Sunday.
Playing the hole on the eve of his Tartan Pro Tour event at Royal Dornoch, the 1999 Open champion was full of praise for Tom Mackenzie’s reworking.
“It’s a really, really nice golf hole and they have done a great job with it,” he said.
“The old hole was further left, so it’s gone further right with better views of the sea, which is beautiful. It is similar kind of length, there are two nice bunkers down the left-hand side which are in play and there’s a nice little false front at the start of the green.”
“I always love playing golf here right back to playing assistants’ golf up here. Royal Dornoch is one of the best courses in the country. It’s great to spend time here.”
The new 7th hole at Royal Dornoch measures 485 yards from the blue tees.
It has been pivoted to the right meaning the sea is in view for the entire length of the hole.
The green has only the sea and sky beyond it, sitting at the top of the hill above the shoreline.
The redesign delivers superb panoramas, not only from the tee but also all the way along the hole’s length.
A nice touch is the green is now visible as players make their way down the ninth hole along the beach edge.
Course designer Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie and Ebert described the route into the new green on the 7th as “rich in options for playing running shots.”
His objective was to create a hole that was similarly testing to the old 7th, to enhance the character while keeping the challenge fair.
As Royal Dornoch’s General Manager Neil Hampton explained, part of the reasoning for the change was to return the hole to the design that was originally intended.
“The local stories are such that George Duncan actually pegged out the 7th hole right along the top of the hill,” he said “But during the night some unscrupulous local moved the pegs inland! The hole was then built along the peg line!”
The GM View from Fergus Bisset
I can confirm that the new 7th hole at Royal Dornoch adds greatly to what is already one of the world’s very best golf courses.
From an elevated tee, you look down the sweeping fairway towards a green that appears perched above the Dornoch Firth.
It’s a striking view and a vast improvement on the old hole where gorse was the predominant visual, both along the fairways and behind the green.
Now the vista is far more open and the hole, although still long and testing, appears playable and inviting.
The tee encourages you to sweep one away towards the undulating fairway, although trouble lurks to the right while rough, in the shape of the already quickly rewilding old 7th, lies left.
When on the fairway, it’s clear that the landing area is generous.
In fact, as Tom Mackenzie described – “The playing corridor is the same width as the original.”
Even with a good drive though, the second remains demanding – generally requiring a long iron to a fairly narrow green entrance.
The green is sloping but not extremely so and there are options for both generous and testing pin positions.
Overall, the hole retains a similar test to that of the old 7th but the routing and aesthetics are vastly improved.
Without compromising the challenge, Tom Mackenzie has created a visual spectacle.
It shows great vision to have been able to see through the gorse that was once there and imagine the possible view out to sea.
Royal Dornoch has always been one of my very favourite courses but the 7th hole was always a bit of a filler (albeit a meaty one.)
Now it’s a hole to look forward to playing, with a healthy dose of trepidation of course.
With possible plans on the table to make changes to the 8th hole – using ground behind the old 7th green to create a new teeing area and changing the angle of the drive – Royal Dornoch continues to look for ways to improve their offering.
It's a forward-thinking and ambitious approach that will ensure Royal Dornoch continues to be regarded as one of the world’s premier links golf courses.
To experience the new 7th hole at Royal Dornoch, as part of a round on the Championship Course, a number of excellent offers are available in September.
These include ‘Play, Shop and Dine’: For £195 play one round on the Championship Course then receive a £25 voucher to spend in the Pro Shop and £10 voucher for the bar and restaurant. A ‘Two Round Ticket’ also offers two rounds on the Championship Course on the same day for £310, therefore only £115 for the second round.
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Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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