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Tain

Ranking
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Founded: 1890
Designer: Tom Morris
Championship Length: 6,404 yards.
PAR: 70
Type: Links, Heathland
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Who this course is best for:

A golfer lodging in the North of Scotland who wants to play a visually pleasing links course that will not punish the average golfer.

Overview:

Old Tom Morris came to Tain in 1890, after creating Royal Dornoch up the road. Here at Tain, Morris laid out 15 holes, three of which the club didn’t keep. A few years on, Dornoch’s John Sutherland extended the course to a full 18. Today, 10 of Morris’s original holes remain untouched.

From the medal tees Tain goes 6,400 yards, which does suggest that it’s one of those courses you are obliged to play “smart.” But at par 70, and with four par 4’s of more than 400 yards, Tain readily accepts the driver. The par 3’s are substantial; one requires a 3-wood and that’s without the wind, which is never. The typical Tain green is fast, rumpled and bunkered. Tain holds its own. Take Tain’s third hole, 435 yards, a dogleg left par 4. It’s a dog that bites, one that presents on any given shot a baffling series of calculations, none exclusive of the others, and each of which must be reckoned correctly, especially off the tee. There’s the ever-present wind, the curve, the plateau up there, and those springy fairways that can carry the “perfect” drive to oblivion. Never mind those bumps in the lawn; they’ll do with the ball as they please. It’s a “fearsome” hole, says Munro Ferries, the Ian Woosnam look-alike who serves as Tain’s golf professional.

Not all of Tain’s holes are so subtle. After Morris’s dogleg 9th, with its bunkers slyly concealed, and then the old man’s gorse-lined 10th, along comes Sutherland’s comical “Alps,” better known here as “Dolly Parton.” The approach is played over a matching set of mounds, both obscenely high.  That odd little anomaly is fairly easily conquered, and now comes the stretch where Tain reels you in. Ever so briefly the course jogs around to the Dornoch Firth, and the rough, colorful landscape opens up grandly. There’s nothing minor about it. The sky is immense. And here it finally hits you that every hole at Tain is its own little world, concealed from those around it. You’re the only one out here. Out of the blue, it seems, Tain has induced that calm state of freedom that is golf’s fleeting gift, a total absence of care. The 14th hole begins the turn toward home; a mogul rises up and slashes the fairway in half. The short 15th is dappled with hillocks, nary a flat spot on it, and the green is a work of art. The 16th is down in a cozy little dell, a modest par 3 with the narrow Tain River forming a “U” around the green. Then another par 3, that long one, with the river in play again. The drive at 18 is played from a perch set back among a thicket of gorse. The green is right next to the clubhouse, just steps away from that tiny first tee. You could go around Tain again.

“It’s not as tough a test as Dornoch,” Munro Ferries tells you. “But you get your golfers who know about the game, who appreciate the game, they rave about this.” Tain is an absolute joy.

Course review content courtesy of Golf Publisher Syndications

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Tours that include this Course

Nairn Golf

Nairn-Championship Cours

Ultimate Highlands and Whisky

Five rounds of golf:

  • Castle Stuart
  • Royal Dornoch-Championship Course
  • Tain
  • Nairn-Championship Course
  • Moray-Old Course