Back-Roads Scotland: Moray Coast

Lossiemouth, Scotland, March 26, 2012. Photo by John Thomson.

The photo above was taken this past Monday evening in Lossiemouth, Scotland, about two hours’ drive northwest of Aberdeen. You are looking across a corner of the North Sea toward the Moray Golf Club, the Lossiemouth Lighthouse, and both the waxing crescent moon and Venus. The photo was taken by John Thomson, a Moray member, whose Uncle Alistair was the club’s professional for thirty-one years and whose father was responsible for the construction of the club’s second eighteen. I haven’t played Moray, but I’ve gazed longingly at both the course and the clubhouse from the Stotfield Hotel, across the street. Here’s what I saw from the hotel’s front door during a trip in 2007:

Moray Golf Club, Lossiemouth, Scotland, 2007.

Moray is one of a number of fine links courses along on the Moray Firth’s southern edge, a hundred-mile stretch of golf-friendly coastline that runs between Inverness and Fraserburgh. Traveling golfers are probably most familiar with two courses at the western end, Castle Stuart and Nairn, which are popular stops for Americans on their way to Royal Dornoch. But those aren’t the only worthy courses on the Moray coast. Others: Nairn DunbarHopeman, Spey Bay, Buckpool, Strathlene, my beloved Cullen, Duff House Royal (not a links course, but significant because it was redesigned, in 1923, by Alister MacKenzie), Royal Tarlair, Rosehearty, and Fraserburgh. And there are many good inland courses nearby as well.

Lossiemouth would make a convenient base camp for any golf trip to the Moray coast. John Thomson, who took the photograph at the top of this post, owns the Links Lodge, a guest house next to the Stotfield; he also owns an adjacent three-bedroom self-catering apartment, the Beach View, which sleeps six. (If there are four golfers in your group, you can do what three Golf Digest editors and I did during a trip to southwestern Ireland in 2006: play a match to determine who will have to double up.) The Links Lodge served as Moray’s clubhouse for the first three years of the club’s existence, between 1889 and 1892; it was then replaced by the building in the photograph below. (The building has been enlarged considerably since then.)

Moray Golf Club, first dedicated clubhouse, 1892.

Thomson told me, “We only found out the Links Lodge was the original clubhouse while replacing a window: we took out a piece of frame with the carpenters’ delivery note still stuck to it.” The first owner, Thomson said, must have been one of the gentlemen in this photograph:

Founding members, Moray Golf Club, 1893.

He continued, “We boast not one but two prime ministers as members—and expelled one of them. We have one of the longest associations of any club in the world with our own labeled malt whiskey (since among the founders were some distillers). Dai Rees, Max Faulkner, and Fred Daly played exhibition matches here, and regular visitors included Ted Ray, Harry Vardon, J. H. Taylor, and James Braid.”

I’ll be in northeastern Scotland next month. My itinerary won’t take me to Lossiemouth, I’m sorry to say, although it will take me to Fraserburgh. I’ll report, eventually. In the meantime, here are a few photos of Hopeman, about four miles west of Moray. I took them in 2007. As you can see from the first, a breeze was blowing the day I played.

 

 

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