Three of the Highlands’ most famous golf courses have been named among the 40 best places to play in Great Britain and Ireland.
Royal Dornoch Golf Club is placed 9th, The Nairn Golf Club 26th and Castle Stuart Golf Links 31st in the list of 100 leading GB&I courses compiled by Golf World magazine.
All three are part of the Highland Golf Links (HGL) partnership which promotes Play and Stay destination breaks in the area. The Kingsmills Hotel and Culloden House Hotel, in Inverness; the Royal Golf Hotel at Royal Dornoch; and the Golf View Hotel and Spa in Nairn are also part of the group.
The Golf World list was drawn up by a 14-strong panel of its readers which looked at factors including strategic design and setting in making their decisions.
Fraser Cromarty, chairman of HGL and CEO at The Nairn Golf Club, said: “Having three courses inside the top 40 of Golf World’s list is fantastic news for the Highlands. The fact that these courses are accessible for visitors and can be played over the course of a weekend makes golfing breaks in this part of the world easy to manage and very rewarding.”
Royal Dornoch’s Championship Course is a favourite of Major winners such as Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Craig Stadler and Greg Norman and is often described as the best links course in the UK not to have hosted The Open Championship.
The Nairn Golf Club hosted the Walker Cup in 1999 and the Curtis Cup in 2012. It will also be home to the Home Internationals competition in August 2016.
Castle Stuart Golf Links, which opened just five years ago, hosted the Scottish Open for three successive years from 2011, with the 2013 competition, won by Phil Mickelson, reaching a television audience of more than 500 million.
The three courses host the 54-hole Tomatin Single Malt Homecoming Pro-Am which will be held from 30 September to 2 October, just a few days after this year’s Ryder Cup. Former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher will lead a field of nearly 300 golfers taking part in the 2014 event.
The Golf World list is a further boost to golf tourism in the Highlands. HGL has recently launched a new website to promote the area, with players from across the UK and abroad already providing an off-peak boost and a welcome spending windfall for courses and hotels.
More than 400 Play and Stay packages have been booked for the ‘shoulder’ months of April and October-November, meaning operators are already nearly half way towards their target of selling 888 deals.
HGL was formed in summer 2011 and since then over 2,000 Play and Stay packages have been booked as a result of the campaign. This represents spending worth more than £500,000.
Over the same period the HGL partners have committed over £10 million to upgrading facilities for visitors.
Fraser Cromarty added: “The level of bookings already for this year is very encouraging and our new website will help attract more visitors to this special part of the world.
“The Highlands is an established golfing destination with fabulous courses and wonderful accommodation.”
Highland Golf Links www.highlandgolflinks.com