The Moray Coast, beginning to the east of Inverness, boasts some of the finest links courses in the Highlands. During a visit to the region in the autumn of 2023, Links Journal was captivated by the area and discovered classic links courses that offer unparalleled value for money. The coastal journey begins near Inverness airport, featuring the illustrious Cabot Highland, formerly known as Castle Stuart. Near town of Nairn, two classics await enthusiasts: the championship course of Nairn and Nairn Dunbar. Moving further east, this time our focus shifts to the lesser-known links courses.
The popularity of this golf haven is undoubtedly on the rise. New true links are set to open in the area, with Cabot Highland's new Tom Doak course scheduled for completion in 2025. Additionally, the renovation of Spey Bay is anticipated to conclude by the summer of 2024.
For accommodations, we recommend the town of Lossiemouth. The Moray Golf Club in the town offers two courses, and easy access to nearby courses makes it a convenient choice. Adjacent to the golf club, various hotels and restaurants cater to a range of preferences. The presence of the RAF base adds a unique flavor, with planes practicing maneuvers above the golf course. During the winter season, typically from October or November to March, golfer can enjoy many area courses at a budget-friendly price (even under £50).
Moray Golf Club - The Old Course at Moray Golf stands as one of the premier true links courses in the Highlands. Crafted by the legendary Old Tom Morris, it features all the fine qualities of classic links; deep revetted bunkers, gorse-lined fairways and fast greens, Moray Old is a true links experience at its finest. Henry Cotton's New Course, inaugurated in 1979, offers tighter fairways and smaller greens compared to its older counterpart. Despite its shorter length, the New Course is equally challenging and rewarding. The 18th hole of the Old, playing towards the town and clubhouse, is one of the most memorable ways to conclude a golf round.
Spey Bay - Designed by the legendary Ben Sayers in 1907, Spey Bay is a classic links course along the Moray coast. Currently undergoing transformation by new owners, the course is set to become a world-class golf destination with a fully reversible 18-hole layout featuring up to 22 green areas and five different routings. Set to be open in the summer of 2024, Spey Bay offers an enjoyable links experience for players of all levels and will certainly receive more attention in the coming years. Links Journal was lucky to get to play the original design but can not wait to get back to new one.
Cullen Links - A must-visit in the region, Cullen Links is one of the most fun and enjoyable courses you will ever play. Cullen Links is the Shiskine of the Highlands. Situated in a spectacular setting, the original nine-hole course designed by Old Tom Morris in 1870 was expanded to 18 holes in 1905. With a unique par 63 layout at just 4,600 yards, including ten par 3s and only one par 5, Cullen Links achieved cult status following a visit by No Laying Up (search video on YouTube). Despite its charm, this gem remains undiscovered by most. And yes, the fishing town of Cullen is home of Cullen skink.
Hopeman - Originally a nine-hole links course, Hopeman Links was extended to 18 holes in 1985. Renowned for its spectacular signature hole, The Prieshach, a par 3 12th, which is played to a green over 100 feet below the tee. With friendly hospitality for visitors and a winter season green fee of £20 (winter 23-24), the course is a bargain for those seeking a memorable links experience.
Covesea Links - Another delightful addition to the region's links experiences, Covesea Links is a nine-hole pay-and-play golf course set in a beautiful location. Suitable for beginners but fun and challenging for experienced golfers, this course follows the contours of a stunning cove, providing breathtaking views of the Moray Coast. A perfect second round of the day course after lunch. Simply turn up (£20 for 9 holes) and play.
Strathlene - Founded in 1877, Strathlene Buckie Golf Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in Scotland. This club is approachable and its course offers spectacular views from clifftop, combining modern design with holes that have stood for over a hundred years. With a winter season green fee of only £15 (winter 23-24), Strathlene provides affordable golfing experience on the picturesque Moray Coast.