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Remote and rugged – Journey to Durness is one-of-a-kind golf experience

Updated: 2 days ago

There is something special about remote golf courses. The stories about Durness were so fascinating that I managed to convince my golf friends (ultimately quite easily) to take a trip to the most northern part of the Highlands.

The journey itself is part of the travel experience—and this wisdom holds especially true when visiting Durness. The distance from Inverness to Durness is only 100 miles, or about 160 kilometres. Depending on the weather, it's wise to allocate around three hours for the trip. Most of the journey is along a breathtaking single-track road. The cooperation in yielding works well, and even visitors driving on the "wrong" side quickly adapt.

As you travel further north, the scenery becomes increasingly magnificent. Upon finally arriving in Durness, you have to take a moment to breathe. It's even more stunning than one could have ever imagined. The turquoise colour of the sea is nothing short of magical. Its stunning shades create a captivating visual experience.

Durness is a small village with a population of fewer than 350 people, and in Durness’s case, the cliché "hidden gem" is justified. This little links course is a must for true golf enthusiasts. A trip to Durness is more than just links golf - it is a real adventure. If you have been there, you know the feeling. This will be one of your most memorable days on a golf course.

On location, we experienced true links weather. The rain eased up, but the wind was so strong that walking was difficult at times. Only one member of the grounds staff was visible, so we put our money in the honesty box and set off.

One of the surprises is that the course is quite new. Designed by three local golfers – Lachie Ross, Ian Morrison, and Francis Keith – and opened in 1988, Durness is a nine-hole par 34 links course, but a second set of tees provides a fine 18-hole experience. Make sure you have time for all 18 holes. Besides its location, Durness is also a great golf course. Many consider it one of the best nine-hole courses in the world.

Scotland has introduced a 500-mile coastal driving route for visitors called the North Coast 500 (NC500). We experienced some of the route and realized that there is so much more up in the north than just golf.

But because we were on a golf trip and decided to go as far as the mainland would take us, we also wanted to include two other links courses in our itinerary. We had to play Reay and Wick and decide to play them on the same day after spending the night in Thurso.

Thurso is the northernmost town on the island of Great Britain. It was formerly a burgh and is one of those places you would not visit unless you are a golfer. But even in this small town, they serve great curry.

We had such high expectations and focus for Durness, it was nice that also Reay turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. The course layout, designed by the renowned James Braid, sets Reay as the most northerly 18-hole links course on the British mainland. The value you get at Reay is unparalleled. With day tickets priced at £50 from April to October and a bargain £30 per day from November to March (2023-24), it is hard to find better value for links golf of this calibre.

Positioned on the edge of Sandside Bay, Reay offers golfers a fine experience with its panoramic views and great golf holes. After completing the round with no other players on the course, we headed 45 minutes southeast to Wick.

Wick Golf Club is the oldest established club on the NC500 and celebrated its 150th year in 2020. Wick is a typical example of a friendly local Scottish golf club. We got a warm welcome and the locals were nice enough to lend us their trolleys. Even though our reservation was never found, we agreed to pay £15 for a round.

This time we skipped one of our all-time favourites, Brora, and arrived happily late in the evening at our cottage in Dornoch. Our two-day trip to Durness and the north shores of the Highland is something we will never forget.


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