18 greatest Scottish golf holes?

Anybody choosing what they call the 18 Greatest Scottish Golf Holes text only is likely to disappoint someone since we all have our particular favourites for different reasons.

Nevertheless Craig Morrison’s and Andrew Ross’s very high quality ‘coffee table’ book, illustrated with John Kernick’s illuminating photography, is a real collector’s masterpiece that should be enjoyed with a wee dram while seated beside a roaring open fire on a winter’s evening.

You don’t have to agree with all the choices, such as the decision to omit  holes at North Berwick and Muirfield completely or missing the sixth at Panmure, to enjoy this book, however.

They have not constrained themselves by choosing what is the greatest first, second, third hole etc and this approach allows them to include the seventeenths at both The  Old Course  and Carnoustie but they have contained themselves to only one hole per course. The result is that they were unable to include ‘Hogan’s Alley’ and ‘The Spectacles’ at Carnoustie, both of which I would suggest are greater par fives than either the twelfth at Kingsbarns or the seventh at Loch Lomond, which are selected. Similarly, how anybody can exclude ‘Foxy’ and ‘Achinchanter’ at Royal Dornoch I shall never understand but the sixth there is chosen; a certain card-wrecker of a par three.

There are some obvious choices such as ‘The Cardinal’ at Prestwick, ‘The Postage Stamp’ at Royal Troon, the seventh at Gullane, the sixth at Cruden Bay (though the 7th has it’s adherents!), the eighteenth at Moray, the second at Royal Aberdeen, the short par four third at Castle Stuart (thereby sadly having to omit their fabulous eleventh hole) and choosing the newly changed tenth rather than ‘Bruce’s Castle’ at Turnberry.

The choice of the seventh at Spey Valley is unfortunate as it highlights the unnaturalness  of the repeated use of the samey ‘tonsil’ bunkers at a course that possesses such wonderful running turf. Nevertheless it gives me a warm glow to see portrait photos of some old friends such as Rob Mackay of Spey Valley with his black retriever, Alan Grant of The Carnegie and Duncan Macleod of Ayrshire all smiling for the lens. John Kernick has captured beautifully with his photography the iconic feel of each course , the misty, dew-covered Gleneagles, merely being one good example.

His pictures of the short fourteenth at Machrihanish Dunes makes me determined to get over there as soon as possible.

Who has heard of Hopeman GC? I thought I had the Highlands courses covered but it seems I have missed a delightful little 137 yarder located on a course just up the road from Nairn.

Of course the commercial imperatives inevitably restrict the authors and they can’t find room for Western Gailes, Brora, Southerness, Blairgowrie Rosemont, or Luffness New but this book  succeeds in taking the reader on a knowledgeable adventure through the Scottish golf landscape with an emphasis on FineGolf locations that I heartily recommend.

Click here to check out the  18 greatest Scottish golf holes website

Reviewed by Lorne Smith 2011


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