Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club in Morayshire: A game of three halves?

MORAYSHIRE, Scotland -- Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club is little more than a short walk from the centre of the picturesque Scottish highland town from which it gets its name. Renowned for the warm welcome it affords it visitors, it is proud of its history which goes all the way back to 1890 when the owner of the Grant Arms Hotel allowed the club to use some pasture for the purposes of golf for one shilling (seven cents) a year. Clearly not given to extravagance, the club then paid Mr. A.C. Brown, a professional golfer, a fee of four pounds and 10 shillings (about seven dollars) to design the course. From these humble beginnings, a delightful and challenging golf course has developed.

Undoubtedly the most famous golfer to have learned to play the game at Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club is Bobby Cruikshank. Born in 1894, he was 4 when he first hit a ball and a young man when he turned pro in 1921 and left for the United States with his great rival, Tommy Armour. Cruikshank never won a major but came closest in 1923 when he birdied the last hole at Inwood Country Club to tie Bobby Jones in the U.S. Open. The tables were turned in the play-off, however, when Jones won with a birdie at the last. Cruikshank was runner-up again in the U.S. Open in 1932 and twice reached the semi-finals of the PGA Championship in 1922 and 1923. A winner of 17 U.S. tour events, he regularly returned to Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club before he died in Delray Beach, Florida in 1975. A photo of him has pride of place in the recently expanded and refurbished clubhouse. There is also a picture of Arnold Palmer, who was made an honorary member in 1989.

Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club by the numbers

With wonderful views of the glorious Cairngorm mountains, the golf course naturally splits into three equal sections. The first six holes are fairly flat and open parkland in character and provide a gentle introduction. The golf course tightens considerably over the second six which pass through fairly hilly woodland. Although the trees have been aggressively thinned in recent times and the firewood sold to members at a substantial discount to the prevailing market price, they pose a very serious threat.

The undoubted star at Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club and undisputed signature hole comes in the middle of this stretch. No. 9, "Murdie's View," is a 275-yard, downhill, par 4 that is blessed with a spectacular backdrop of pine trees and the beautiful Cromdale Hills.

Coming off the 12th green, you emerge blinking from the woodland and onto undulating parkland for a particularly pleasing closing stretch which, though comparatively benign, still contains considerable danger.

"The course isn't particularly tricky, particularly the first half-a-dozen holes" said Paul McKay, the club secretary. "Hitting the ball straight certainly helps, especially during the middle section through the woods."

Partly because the golf course only measures 5,710 yards, it is a wee bit vulnerable and the course record is held by a 4 handicapper who shot a gross 60, net 56 against a par of 70 and standard scratch score of 68. Even that remarkable performance pales in comparison, however, with the achievement of present member, Kenny Winslow who, after putting in three cards and receiving a handicap of 27, shot a gross 78, net 49! His handicap promptly plummeted to 16 and he did the best he could to maintain as low a profile at the club for several months afterward.

Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club: The verdict

Although perhaps not providing the most thorough of examinations, Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club is a hugely enjoyable course that will help restore morale if you've been beaten up elsewhere. But even if you start and finish well, you may find yourself looking for balls in the middle section.

There are only four buggies which, in my opinion, is a good thing. But if you need one, you would be advised to let the course know in advance. The superb food in the clubhouse restaurant is simply the best I've ever tasted in a Scottish golf club.

Photos courtesy of David J. Whyte/Linksland.com

Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses. Follow Clive on Twitter at @cliveagran.
0 Comments
Related Links
Despite the grief you'll encounter from the bumps and hollows and whins and revetted bunkers, the Old Course at Moray Golf Club, designed by Old Tom Morris, is absolutely stunning. You can't help but fall under the magical spell of what is indisputably one of the world's finest links courses. What's more: Because of noise from the RAF screaming into the adjacent Lossiemouth air base, green fees at Moray are possibly the best bargain in the whole of Scotland, Clive Agran writes.
2 Min Read
A lot of pressure can come with planning a Scotland golf vacation, especially if its your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the home of golf. And to complicate things, usually each person in your group has their own wish list. But there are a few things you should agree on when it comes to your links vacation, and Brandon Tucker offers five tips to help steer you in the right direction.
3 Min Read
A golf trip to Scotland doesn't have to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Brandon Tucker has a few helpful, money-saving tips that could see you playing in the land of links as often as you like. Well, maybe not that often, but enough to start developing a taste for haggis.
2 Min Read
More from the author
7 Min Read
August 31, 2017
You can ditch the Caribbean crowds at the exclusive Abaco Club, one of the top luxury golf getaways in the Bahamas.
3 Min Read
August 4, 2017
There may be no more exclusive stay-and-play in the British Isles than the opulent Skibo Castle and Carnegie Club in the Scottish Highlands.
4 Min Read
October 15, 2014
Most of the 500-plus courses in Scotland comfortably qualify as "old" and most are comparatively obscure, and so finding a few that are both presented no problem for veteran golf scribe Clive Agran. Selecting the best, however, demanded so much intellectual effort that a second glass of whisky was required.
4 Min Read
August 22, 2014
The farther north you travel in Scotland, the fewer people you see and the wilder the scenery is. But even in the remotest parts there is golf.
4 Min Read
July 10, 2014
There are approximately 1,500 golf courses in England, but which are the best? From West Sussex to Royal Cinque Ports to Wentworth, here are Clive Agran's top 10.
1 Min Read
June 17, 2014
Set among 850 acres of Perthshire countryside, Gleneagles will host the 2014 Ryder Cup. But while it's home to three superb golf courses, Gleneagles has so much more to offer. Since its doors first swung open in the middle of the Roaring '20s, the impressive five-star hotel has entertained royalty and celebrities alike. And even though times have changed, the same single-minded determination to have fun is still at the heart of the Gleneagles experience, Clive Agran writes.
Popular
2 Min Read
April 28, 2022
Famous, historic and exclusive clubs are all offering rounds to help with turf research in 2022.
6 Min Read
May 9, 2022
Here's how to play - and stay - where the pros play.
9 Min Read
May 12, 2022
Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, can help golfers get in better shape - physically, mentally and emotionally - on and off the course.
4 Min Read
May 19, 2022
David McLay Kidd's $7-million redesign reinvents the private golf club that is accessible by a stay at the Inn at Entrada in St. George, Utah.
Load More
Now Reading
Grantown-on-Spey Golf Club in Morayshire: A game of three halves?