Nairn Dunbar Golf Club, the renowned championship venue, has undergone a series of course improvements to restore the links effect at the Highland layout.
As the club celebrates its 120th anniversary, it is reflecting on steps taken in recent years to promote a true links golf experience, improving and upgrading the course to keep pace with the ever-changing requirements and expectations of members and visitors.
After receiving consistent feedback that holes 9, 10 and 11 had a more parkland feel, the club put a restoration plan in place to unveil as much of the natural dune systems and undulations as possible. Through sustainable management, Nairn Dunbar have also worked hard on producing more firm and fast greens for links golf and undertaken a rough, gorse and tree management programme.
Under the leadership of course manager Richard Johnstone, who is continuing to engage in education to become one of the most qualified in the UK, the overall improvements have been reflected in recent performance data analysis through the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) programme which highlighted the consistent quality of the playing surfaces.
The club, host to leading amateur and professional events such as The R&A Boys Amateur Championship in 2017 and The PGA Northern Open in 2018, now boast an improved links test to challenge all abilities while providing great value for money.
Robbie Stewart, who took over as new PGA Director of Golf at Nairn Dunbar a year ago, said: “Going back to late 2015, the club had a vision to restore the links site here. The course has long possessed all the essential ingredients of a thoroughly absorbing links layout and Richard and his team have brought that to the fore in recent years.
“We are delighted with the quality of the course and continue to pride ourselves on product, condition and service for members and visitors at the club. With the autumn now here and winter approaching, we boast a superb all-year round links test at Nairn Dunbar.”
The restoration plan at holes 9, 10 and 11 has helped achieve the overall links experience, as previously there was a band of larch trees, gorse and broom running down the right-hand side of the 10th hole that blocked the view of the Moray Firth and the natural dunes. With the addition of new teeing surfaces, the parkland feel has been lost.
Johnstone has also worked on the composition of the grass species on greens, introducing more fine leaved grass into the surfaces and reducing the amount of meadow grass content, giving the perfect environment for fine links grasses to thrive.
Johnstone, who was one of only three course managers selected from thousands across the UK to work at Le Golf National for the 2018 Ryder Cup, said: “We have also firmed up surfaces to achieve firm and fast links golf by regularly topdressing surfaces with dune sand to dilute organic matter with significant changes to firmness on greens and approaches.”
The club also implemented a rough management plan to return the links roughs to their natural condition, allowing fescues to regenerate to a dominant position and leave a long, open and wispy rough. “This gives the course a better aesthetic effect but allows members and visitors to find their balls and help speed up play,” added Johnstone. “We also introduced a gorse and tree management plan to return areas of the course back to its original dune landscape, with the removal of gorse, broom and other non-native species.”
Part of a rich stretch of links golfing terrain in the north, along with the likes of Nairn, Castle Stuart and Moray, Nairn Dunbar is set in 135 acres of undulating links land. Initially a 9-hole course from its founding on 24 May 1899 before its extension to 18 holes in 1924, it lies to the east of the bustling coastal town of Nairn. With views across the Moray Firth to the Black Isle and beyond to the mountains of Sutherland, as well as inland to the neighbouring Cawdor Hills, it offers a fun and enjoyable test, characterised by holes such as the picturesque par-3 8th.
Reached by excellent travel connections only 15 minutes from Inverness Airport and two hours from Aberdeen Airport, the par-72 course measures 6,765 yards from the championship tees to 6,290 off the yellow tees and 5,748 from the reds.
The club is currently offering two fantastic packages to encourage new members, including 15 months membership for the price of 12 and a winter ticket for only £175 from 1 November 2019 to 31 March 2020.
Nairn Dunbar Golf Club https://www.nairndunbar.com/