Scotland Beyond St. Andrews: The Highlands boast rugged and stunningly beautiful golf courses

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 17, 2012, 5:00 am

Golfers the world over know St. Andrews is where the game began. Consequently, a pilgrimage to golf's homeland is high on the wish list of all those who care about golf's history and traditions.

There's much more to Scotland than simply St Andrews, however, and hundreds of fabulous golfing delights are located outside the Kingdom of Fife. Some are renowned throughout the world, while others are comparatively unknown. But because of the democratic nature of golf in Scotland, nearly all welcome visitors.

With that in mind, let's take a look at golf in the Highlands of Scotland.

The Scottish Highlands lie well to the north and west of Glasgow and Edinburgh and away from the east coast until the region broadens in the north to cover the whole width of the country. It's the most rugged, mountainous and sparsely populated area of Scotland and contains some extraordinarily beautiful and spectacular golf courses.

Boat of Garten Golf Club

The curiously named Boat of Garten Golf Club lies right in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, 1,000 feet above sea level and about as far from the sea as you can be in Scotland. The name derives from the ferry that used to cross the mighty River Spey -- arguably Scotland's best salmon river -- that surges past the golf course.

Although its origins are 19th century, the course was expanded and remodeled by the legendary James Braid in the 1930s.

Short but still very challenging, it delightfully threads through the silver birch, heather and gorse with a spectacular mountain backdrop adding considerably to the experience.

Moray Golf Club

Follow the salmon down the river and eventually you will enter the North Sea just a few miles east of Lossiemouth, which is where the Royal Air Force's has its largest and busiest jet base. Right next door is the truly wonderful links course at Moray. Designed by none other than Old Tom Morris more than 100 years ago, Moray's Old Course is magnificent with everything you want from a links, including revetted bunkers, glorious gorse and immaculate greens.

Venue for both the Scottish Amateur and Scottish Professional championships, it would be a strong candidate for the The Open itself but for one thing: the almost deafening roar of jets taking off and landing. Although a nuisance, the noise is the principal reason why the green fee at Moray is the best bargain in Scotland.

Treat yourself to a 'wee dram' of the club's very own 10-year-old whisky to round off a perfect day.

Nairn Golf Club

Head east along the coast and you will soon arrive at another outstanding links golf course, Nairn. Both Old Tom Morris and James Braid have had a hand in the design of this classic links that goes straight out and back in the time-honored way.

The wind whipping off the Moray Firth, which is visible from every hole, is a real factor and stories abound of golfers turning at 3 under but finishing 10 over or worse.

The Walker Cup was played here in 1999. And in June 2012, the women will be battling out the Curtis Cup on Nairn's majestic links.

Castle Stuart Golf Links

Not all the best golf courses in Scotland are more than a century old, and if you travel a little farther west from Nairn you'll discover a new one that's creating a huge stir and sending mighty ripples right across the Moray Firth.

Mountains of praise have already been heaped on Castle Stuart Golf Links since it opened its generous fairways in 2009. Mark Parsinen, who, in partnership with Kyle Phillips, was responsible for the magnificent Kingsbarns Golf Links, has teamed up with fellow American Gil Hanse to produce another glorious gem. It's fair, forgiving and, most important of all, great fun.

Royal Dornoch Golf Club

From a modern masterpiece to an established star as we drive past Inverness, the unofficial capital of the Highlands, and head north to Royal Dornoch Golf Club, one of the truly great courses of the world.

Just 80 miles from the most northerly tip of Scotland, it benefits from long summer days and surprisingly little rainfall. Old Tom Morris first laid out the course, but Royal Dornoch is perhaps better known for having given the golf world one of the greatest course architects of all time, Donald Ross. Indeed, the raised greens at Dornoch will remind some of the fiendishly difficult 'upturned saucers' at Pinehurst No. 2.

With revetted pot bunkers, rough that's tough but not impossible, gloriously springy turf, stunning views across Dornoch Firth and simply sensational holes, this is pure golfing heaven.

Brora Golf Club

Since you've come so far, you simply must travel another 30 miles north along the coast and enjoy one last slice of golf paradise. Rather quirky with cattle munching the rough but no yardage markers, Brora Golf Club is another classic out-and-back course.

Lying comfortably between a beautiful beach and the purple heather-covered mountains of Ben Bhraggie, it is home to the James Braid Society. Braid, who is Scotland's most prolific course architect, redesigned Brora in 1924 and produced something truly special.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.