Royal Dornoch, Championship Course Review

18 holes, par 70, 6,626 yards. Links.

Royal Dornoch is, quite simply, a work of art and is one of Tom Watson's favourite courses. It is a par 70 and runs to 6,770 yards, with the Sutherland Hills providing the backdrop and the Dornoch Firth dictating how the course plays from hour to hour.

It is a typical links, with hillocks, dunes, ridges and undulating fairways. The first hole is only 331 yards long. A gentle opener? Well yes, if you avoid all nine bunkers and the thick gorse. Put your drive in the correct place and you should be thinking of a birdie. Finish in the gorse and it's three off the tee.

The second is a simple-enough looking par three. At 177 yards, it is not long, but the wind is a huge factor and you could be hitting anything from a short iron to a three wood played to an inverted saucer-shaped green that tends to throw the ball off.

The sixth is another par three, this one measuring just 163 yards. It is played to a plateau green built into a hillside with gorse everywhere you look. There are two bunkers to the left of the green. However, if you go right, your ball will fall off the green and end up in either a bunker or in the thick rough, leaving a very tricky second shot.

The 14th, a par four measuring 445 yards, is a double dogleg and is probably the toughest hole on the course - so tough that it doesn't have any bunkers because it doesn't need any. The fairway is narrow, with gorse and thick rough on both sides - miss the fairway and you could easily run up a six or seven (or worse!). It is played to a narrow plateau green that falls off steeply so if you miss the surface you will face yet another difficult recovery.

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Derek Clements

Author, Derek Clements

Derek Clements is a golf journalist - he has covered many Open Championships and European Tour events, as well as The Masters. Born in Glasgow, he writes for The Sunday Times and Golfshake, and has also written for Today's Golfer, the Daily Mail, Swing by Swing and many other golf websites, magazines and newspapers. He has played golf all over the world and numbers Gleneagles, Kingsbarns and Aldeburgh as his three favourite golf courses in the United Kingdom. He lives in Suffolk, is a member of Waldringfield Golf Club and has a handicap of nine. He had lessons from the late Bob Torrance and has worked with Jean-Jacques Rivet, one of the world's leading golf biomechanists.