Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club battles coastal erosion in the Scottish Highlands

One of the world's oldest links is offering a lifetime overseas golf membership to help pay for protection against raging storms.
October storms left serious damage to the first two holes of Fortrose & Rosemarkie in the Scottish Highlands.

Mike MacDonald has been working at Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club for more than two decades.

MacDonald, the club manager of the 15th-oldest recorded club in the world (1793), has never seen waves like he did that day last October. The angry sea lashed the first two holes, causing significant coastal erosion.

The 6,085-yard links is still playable, but MacDonald wants to safeguard against future storms. It would be shame if the world's fourth oldest golf course, where the game has been played continuously since 1702, somehow slipped into the sea. He's hoping to raise money by selling lifetime overseas and country (golfers who live 50+ miles away) memberships to save one of Scotland's most interesting links.

Erosion from storms is threatening the first tee box at Fortrose & Rosemarkie in the Scottish Highlands.

For 5,000 pounds, golfers get an array of benefits:

* Full playing rights at no additional cost with guests paying reduced rates. 
* Access to play in Club & Open competitions with members and guests at reduced/discounted rates.
* Discounted green fees at 15 other reciprocal golf courses, including Royal Dornoch, Golspie, Tain, Brora and Moray
* Membership in the association of James Braid Golf Courses for additional discounts (300+ courses to choose from). 
* A complimentary lesson, range balls and cart, plus a discount card for pro shop, bar & restaurant purchases.
* A club-logo tie, shirt, headcover, bag tag and commemorative logo bottle of single malt whisky.
* A complimentary two-course meal for the member and a guest at Braid’s Restaurant.  
* To show the club's appreciation, MacDonald plans to hang a decorative board in the clubhouse with the names of all the overseas members.

In the meantime, MacDonald hired an excavator to clean up the shoreline, but he believes that rock armour is the best long-term solution. He's sought help from the local council and Nature Scotland (part of the Scottish Government responsible for the environment) with no luck.
"We have lost up to 5 meters in some places and the fence to the left side of the first tee fell down today with high winds as there was no support around this area. ... We need to protect tee no. 1 and tee no. 2 as a priority," he noted in December.

Why Fortrose & Rosemarkie is so special

You're probably wondering, Why should I care about a golf course an ocean and thousands of miles away? Because Fortrose & Rosemarkie is, yard for yard, perhaps the most special golf landscape on the planet. The course is squeezed onto a narrow peninsula that juts into the Moray Firth.

I honestly had never heard of it until I started researching a 2022 trip to play in the Scottish Highlands, while visiting nearby Cabot Highlands to see where Tom Doak is building its new course. Fortrose & Rosemarkie's charming quirkiness and stunning scenery around a lighthouse dazzles everyone who visits. It ranks among my favorite Scottish links I've played.

Fortrose, Ross-shire

Fortrose & Rosemarkie boasts great ratings on GolfPass (4.8) and sends plenty of happy customers home raving about their round. "Great Experience!" wrote 'Crober' in a September review on GolfPass. "Quirky course, good test for all golfers! Better than expected! Definitely worth the journey."

Even if you can't join, maybe you can donate to the cause (contact MacDonald at the course website). Or, at least, schedule a tee time at Fortrose & Rosemarkie the next time you're in Scotland. Every dollar helps. You won't be disappointed.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,100 courses and written about golf destinations in 25 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club battles coastal erosion in the Scottish Highlands