NC500 course recommendations ?

Skytot

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Its my 60th birthday next year in May . Myself , wife & dog are thinking of holidaying travelling the NC500 in the car staying in hotels/ B&Bs ect . Whilst on route I would like to play golf probably twice , anyone recommend a couple of courses to play ?
 

pendodave

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There's a nice looking one just north of Ullapool.
Was on my bike, so no opportunity to try it out...
The west coast of nc500 is a little inhospitable for golf. Iirc, the only other one is a tiny 9 hole pitch and putt near Strathcarron, but there may be others i didn't spot . Once you get to Durness, there are a lot more about.
 

Skytot

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Royal Dornoch the most obvious one!

Durness is a great wee 9 hole course.
I know about Royal Dornoch, but don’t fancy paying a top price green fee as I will be playing on my own. Quite happy with 9 hole courses with great scenic settings
 

pendodave

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Just remembered, there's one just outside Gairloch too. Not a bad setting. Rather like Ullapool, I don't think it's 18 holes. In fact, most courses on the west coast and Islands are less than 18.


nc18.jpg
 

Backache

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I don't actually know where the NC500 goes.
But Tain ,Golspie and Brora are all worth playing on the East.
Gairloch is good fun and Strathcarron is a great wee nine holer with an honesty box. Tough opening par 3 with a lot of bog before the green.
Used to camp on the course at Ullapool before it was a golf course and I've heard Durness is pleasant.
If you want to stop off on the way up or down there are some cracking wee courses in the Highlands. I was would recommend Kingussie for views and enjoyment.
Boat of Garten is superb as well though it's better known now and a bit pricier.
 

Skytot

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I don't actually know where the NC500 goes.
But Tain ,Golspie and Brora are all worth playing on the East.
Gairloch is good fun and Strathcarron is a great wee nine holer with an honesty box. Tough opening par 3 with a lot of bog before the green.
Used to camp on the course at Ullapool before it was a golf course and I've heard Durness is pleasant.
If you want to stop off on the way up or down there are some cracking wee courses in the Highlands. I was would recommend Kingussie for views and enjoyment.
Boat of Garten is superb as well though it's better known now and a bit pricier.
Thanks
 

patricks148

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All the "proper" 18 hole courses are on the east. If you are starting in Inverness and heading north ignoring the Inverness courses, my choices would be Fortrose, Portmahomack, Tain,Bonar Bridge, Brora, Wick, Reay, Durness, Gairloch. FORTROSE which is a short links jutting out into the moray firth, some 25 min drive from Inverness. You have a few courses along the route north. Portmahomack, which is a small community links on the Dornoch firth. It's again short with two sets of tees. Bonar is a non links and very pretty. It's tree-lined and again a community course. If you are there spring this is probably the best play I know of to spot Osprey s which nest closeby and fish in one of the lochs by the course. Tain is my favourite of the courses along there and I've been a member off and on the last 20 years or so, it's a decent test, not heavily bunkered. It used to be a very hard course, with gorse lining almost evey fairway. Royal Dornoch is in the top 10 in the world, but its also £220 I think and you might not get a time, if you havnt already booked a time. Brora is a links that is fairly open and almost impossible to lose a ball, but that dosnt make it any less of a challenge. Still has sheep and ciws grazing with electric fences around the greens. Wick out and back links, the front 9 is pretty flat, but coming back is along a massive dune, some lovely views along there. Reay, quite similar to Wick without the big dune. Durness, nice 9 hole with two sets of tees, stand out hole is 9/18 where you play over a ravine to the green. Even if you don't play the course the beach is worth a visit alone, pure white sand and azure blue sea, you would think you were in the Caribbean, apart from the temperature. Gairloch is nice with some lovely views.
If you want any other info just let me know.
 

The Lion

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I go every year so may be able to help you a little. Some ideas and suggestions, including routing…

I’d strongly recommend doing the coast loop by starting up the East Coast, then back down the west…the best way imho as the excitement builds and builds…until you reach the West Coast… 🤩

There’s plenty to do to have a break for golf. It’s otherworldly up there…so remote, wild, beautiful in a way you may not have seen before.
There’s also a hike you can do over moorland to a hidden beach. Camp the night, bring a portable BBQ for one of life’s great experiences 💯

LOTS to do too along the route, including a zip wire, caves, local history museums, clearance village, mountains, swimming in the azure coloured waters. The beaches up there are incredible! More in a separate post below…

The golf ain’t bad too…from the dunes of Wick & Reay, to the delights of Durness, concluding with the quirky charms of Ullapool, Gairloch & Lochcarron, plus the hidden beauty of Bonar Bridge, you’re never too far from a fun game.

Also…Thurso’s park to moorland hybrid is an enjoyable ride through varied terrain with some great views near the end.

I’d recommend checking websites and calling up the 18 holers as many have great twilight rates (eg Brora, Tain & Golspie) and/or UK golfer rates, which make the often expensive fees manageable.

Every club will also have multiple open comps, so it’s worth checking on Golf Empire to see what’s on while you’re there.

Lastly, the East Coast is a winding, climbing, falling romp through golden farmland, valley, glen, purple moorland and finally rugged pasture. It sets the scene for one of life’s great experiences. Quaint gems like Lybster, Helmsdale & Portmahomack add enjoyment on the golfing side with scenery to match!

For golf overall, I’d strongly recommend thus (approx prices included):

Brora £65 Twl
Durness (9) £25 9h
Golspie £55 Twl
Tain £50 Twl
Bonar Bridge (9) £25 18h
Reay £50 Day
Thurso £TBA

The following 9 holers are also great and I’d recommend trying to play them all, or most, especially as they’re usually quite short and easy to get around in a bit more than an hour (photo time excluded!!):

Portmahomack (9)
Ullapool (9)
Gairloch (9)
Lochcarron (9)
Helmsdale (9)
Lybster (9)

Prices are usually around £15 for 9 holes. Lochcarron is a classic example of a basic, but fun local Highland course carved out of the flattest land available!
 

The Lion

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Essentials (and maybes!) are as follows:-

EAST COAST
  • First, take a short detour for dolphin watching at Fortrose’s Chanonry Point, which is very near Inverness.
  • Dornoch: old centre, castle, HistoryLinks museum, sand dunes, iconic Royal Dornoch golf course
  • Embo Beach: a nice beach, rockpools and sand dunes
  • Then take the back road to Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve for seal watching (guaranteed) and ruined Skelbo Castle. You can go up into the castle. It’s eerie!
  • Dunrobin Castle for historic house, gardens and falcon display
  • Carn Liath Broch is next to the A9 between Golspie/Brora and a must quick stop/break
  • Helmsdale and its harbour is worth a stop for lunch and/or a beer in the Bridge Hotel. Timespan also worth a look.
  • The road north of Helmsdale. Mad, winding, spectacular and with plenty of viewpoints to stop and chill
  • Badbea Clearance Village. A chilling reminder of what the rich do to us normal people 😢
  • Latheronwheel and/or Lybster Harbours (prefer Latheronwheel if time for only one: great picnic spot, cliff walk, fairy grotto, old bridge and a cave!)
  • Whaligoe Steps (not been, but exciting) with a cafe at the top after you’ve finished being thrilled
  • Castle of Old Wick: perched precariously on a sheer cliff with great views over the sea
  • Castle Sinclair Girnigoe: spectacular castle on a clifftop outside Wick
  • Wick for the hell of it (it’s rundown) and to admire the huge ‘Spoons!
NORTH COAST
  • John o’Groats for the views and THAT photo 💯
  • Duncansby Stacks and Lighthouse: a must. 30 min walk with spectacular views along the sheer cliffs to the stacks.
  • Thurso. The End of the Earth. Wild, remote, untamed and a loud night out! Can suggest places to stay (ideal!) and eat. Also there’s a restaurant in Scrabster 2 miles away which I’ve heard is good!
  • Melvich Beach
  • Strathy Beach
  • Farr Beach:
  • Tongue: hotel, hostel, campsite, beers, hilltop castle with incredible views, stunning sea loch and causeway
  • The ROAD. Yeah that’s right. The damn road. It’s a patchwork of bits of tarmac added over half a century. It’s often crumbling. Its views tho are the best I’ve ever seen in Scotland or probably anywhere. Including the Himalaya 🤩
  • Loch Eriboll: like no other. Middle Earth in the real world. In the right light it takes your breath away, especially when you round the bend and the road drops and you see THAT spit of land and the loch and mountains beyond 🤩
  • Smoo Cave. At the “entrance” to Durness
  • Golden Eagle Zip Line
  • Balnakiel Bay and Durness GC
  • Cape Wrath trip
WEST COAST
  • Oldshoremore: glorious beach on a warm day (rare!)
  • Sandwood Bay: a hike over the moors to paradise
  • Kylesku Bridge: stop at Assynt Viewpoint for some of the best views of a lifetime
  • Scourie Beach
  • Allt Chranaidh Waterfall
  • Ardvreck Castle: I’m saying nothing 💯
  • Assynt region
  • Lochinver and onto Achmelvich, its awesome setting, beach, campsite and chippy 🤩
  • Ullapool and its lochside glory
  • Inverewe Gardens: well worth the stop for something different
  • Gairloch and golf!
  • Applecross, and, and…
There’s more of course, but that’s for you to discover…
 

Skytot

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All the "proper" 18 hole courses are on the east. If you are starting in Inverness and heading north ignoring the Inverness courses, my choices would be Fortrose, Portmahomack, Tain,Bonar Bridge, Brora, Wick, Reay, Durness, Gairloch. FORTROSE which is a short links jutting out into the moray firth, some 25 min drive from Inverness. You have a few courses along the route north. Portmahomack, which is a small community links on the Dornoch firth. It's again short with two sets of tees. Bonar is a non links and very pretty. It's tree-lined and again a community course. If you are there spring this is probably the best play I know of to spot Osprey s which nest closeby and fish in one of the lochs by the course. Tain is my favourite of the courses along there and I've been a member off and on the last 20 years or so, it's a decent test, not heavily bunkered. It used to be a very hard course, with gorse lining almost evey fairway. Royal Dornoch is in the top 10 in the world, but its also £220 I think and you might not get a time, if you havnt already booked a time. Brora is a links that is fairly open and almost impossible to lose a ball, but that dosnt make it any less of a challenge. Still has sheep and ciws grazing with electric fences around the greens. Wick out and back links, the front 9 is pretty flat, but coming back is along a massive dune, some lovely views along there. Reay, quite similar to Wick without the big dune. Durness, nice 9 hole with two sets of tees, stand out hole is 9/18 where you play over a ravine to the green. Even if you don't play the course the beach is worth a visit alone, pure white sand and azure blue sea, you would think you were in the Caribbean, apart from the temperature. Gairloch is nice with some lovely views.
If you want any other info just let me know.
Thanks
 

Skytot

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Essentials (and maybes!) are as follows:-

EAST COAST
  • First, take a short detour for dolphin watching at Fortrose’s Chanonry Point, which is very near Inverness.
  • Dornoch: old centre, castle, HistoryLinks museum, sand dunes, iconic Royal Dornoch golf course
  • Embo Beach: a nice beach, rockpools and sand dunes
  • Then take the back road to Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve for seal watching (guaranteed) and ruined Skelbo Castle. You can go up into the castle. It’s eerie!
  • Dunrobin Castle for historic house, gardens and falcon display
  • Carn Liath Broch is next to the A9 between Golspie/Brora and a must quick stop/break
  • Helmsdale and its harbour is worth a stop for lunch and/or a beer in the Bridge Hotel. Timespan also worth a look.
  • The road north of Helmsdale. Mad, winding, spectacular and with plenty of viewpoints to stop and chill
  • Badbea Clearance Village. A chilling reminder of what the rich do to us normal people 😢
  • Latheronwheel and/or Lybster Harbours (prefer Latheronwheel if time for only one: great picnic spot, cliff walk, fairy grotto, old bridge and a cave!)
  • Whaligoe Steps (not been, but exciting) with a cafe at the top after you’ve finished being thrilled
  • Castle of Old Wick: perched precariously on a sheer cliff with great views over the sea
  • Castle Sinclair Girnigoe: spectacular castle on a clifftop outside Wick
  • Wick for the hell of it (it’s rundown) and to admire the huge ‘Spoons!
NORTH COAST
  • John o’Groats for the views and THAT photo 💯
  • Duncansby Stacks and Lighthouse: a must. 30 min walk with spectacular views along the sheer cliffs to the stacks.
  • Thurso. The End of the Earth. Wild, remote, untamed and a loud night out! Can suggest places to stay (ideal!) and eat. Also there’s a restaurant in Scrabster 2 miles away which I’ve heard is good!
  • Melvich Beach
  • Strathy Beach
  • Farr Beach:
  • Tongue: hotel, hostel, campsite, beers, hilltop castle with incredible views, stunning sea loch and causeway
  • The ROAD. Yeah that’s right. The damn road. It’s a patchwork of bits of tarmac added over half a century. It’s often crumbling. Its views tho are the best I’ve ever seen in Scotland or probably anywhere. Including the Himalaya 🤩
  • Loch Eriboll: like no other. Middle Earth in the real world. In the right light it takes your breath away, especially when you round the bend and the road drops and you see THAT spit of land and the loch and mountains beyond 🤩
  • Smoo Cave. At the “entrance” to Durness
  • Golden Eagle Zip Line
  • Balnakiel Bay and Durness GC
  • Cape Wrath trip
WEST COAST
  • Oldshoremore: glorious beach on a warm day (rare!)
  • Sandwood Bay: a hike over the moors to paradise
  • Kylesku Bridge: stop at Assynt Viewpoint for some of the best views of a lifetime
  • Scourie Beach
  • Allt Chranaidh Waterfall
  • Ardvreck Castle: I’m saying nothing 💯
  • Assynt region
  • Lochinver and onto Achmelvich, its awesome setting, beach, campsite and chippy 🤩
  • Ullapool and its lochside glory
  • Inverewe Gardens: well worth the stop for something different
  • Gairloch and golf!
  • Applecross, and, and…
There’s more of course, but that’s for you to discover…
Thanks , that’s a very comprehensive report & one that future golf monthly forum members will be able to use . 👍
 

Skytot

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Thank you everyone for your help . It sounds amazing. Some serious planning to do now and I’m sure I will be calling on some of you again for further recommendations
 
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